Books Read in 2016

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2016 has come and gone and here is the list of books I plodded through along the way. Maybe there is something in here you can add to your 2017 list.

*disclaimer: just because a book is in my list does NOT mean I endorse the content contained in the book. For your benefit, I have highlighted the books containing content that may have points of view that are in opposition to a biblical worldview by making the font bold.

1. The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis (7 book series). I try to reread these books every few years.

2. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. An excellent book about a barber in Port William written by an masterful story teller.

3. The Faith of Christopher Hitchens by Larry Taunton. A biographical account of the private Hitchens, his interest in Christianity & his friendship with Taunton.

4. Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens. An autobiographical account of Hitchen’s life. It is, at times, crude and vulgar, but insightful and enlightening regarding Hitchens & his anti-theist worldview.

5. Redeeming Singleness: How the Story line of Scripture Affirms the Single Life by Barry Danylak. The last two chapters of this book are worth the entire price of the book. This is a book that develops a theology of singleness for those called to this fruitful lifestyle.  Danylak takes you on a historical and theological journey that requires work on your part, but is well worth the effort.

6. Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling our Conflicts by Dr. Robert D. Jones.  This is one of the more helpful books I read this year and I believe every church member should read it. Everyone deals with conflict.  Few of us deal with conflict in a way that honors the Lord.  This book equips you to honor God and love those you are in conflict with. Don’t buy it for someone else.  Buy it for yourself.

7.   How to Write A lot by Paul J. Silvas. This is simply a book on the discipline of writing.  It is witty and direct.  If you want to learn how to dedicate yourself to writing for the benefit of others, read this book and apply it.

8. God, Marriage & Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Dr. Andreas Kostenberger and David Jones.  This is a broad and thorough work on marriage, divorce, remarriage, singleness, homosexuality, parenting and family worship (and that is just scratching the surface).

9. Get Outta My Face: How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel by Rick Horne. The title gives a lot away.  If you minister to teenagers, counsel teenagers or parent a teenager, this book can equip you on how to shepherd a teenager’s heart.

10. When Good Kids Make Bad Choices: Help and Hope for Hurting Parents by Jim Newheiser and Elyse Fitzpatrick and Laura Hendrickson.  The authors of this book will quickly tell you that there is no such thing as a “good” kid.  This is a practical book aimed to encourage the parents of wayward teens.  There is an excellent chapter written by a medical doctor and psychiatrist with a special needs kid regarding parenting children with special needs.  In addition to that there is a helpful chapter on what is considered brain disease, what isn’t and an evaluation of many of the common medications that are prescribed for children.

11. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.  This is my first Tedd Tripp book.  I have read lots of things from his brother, Paul. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and found it to answer many questions that I had personally about parenting.  He deals a lot with how we as parents are God’s agent for our children.  It covers disciplining your children for the glory of God and the sake of their souls.

12. Holiness by J.C. Ryle.  It is no exaggeration to say that in my opinion this is the best work on the doctrine of sanctification I have read (and I have read a lot and have a lot of favorites).  I found myself cherishing the gospel more with every chapter and longing more and more to be conformed into the image of Christ.

13. A Covenant Feast: Reflections on the Lord’s Table.  This book was written by my good friend, Ryan Davidson.  It is a collection of three sermons he gave to his congregation on the Lord’s Supper.  It is conversational and very easy to understand. He was intentional about that.  I know I may sound bias, but I believe this is one of the best and most helpful books I have read on the sacrament of communion.  Please buy this book, read it, understand it and be edified by faithfully coming to the Lord’s table.

14. True Friendship: Walking Shoulder to Shoulder by Vaughan Roberts. Excellent short book on developing a theology of friendship.  This is a biblical approach about our need for intimate friendships that point us to the gospel of grace.

15. Psalms: A Geneva Commentary Series by W.S. Plummer.  I try to keep a steady diet of reading through commentaries from cover to cover. I am not quite finished with this one, but it is by far the best commentary I have read on the book of the Psalms.  Very soul nourishing.

16. Writers to Read: Nine Names that Belong on Your Bookshelf by Douglas Wilson. Why not read a book about books you should be reading?  This is a fun book about what you’re missing out on.  A couple of notables from it- Lewis & Tolkien.

17. A Hobbit, A Wardrobe & A Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 by Joseph Loconte.  This is an excellent biographical account not just of the Great War, but of how the Great War shaped the thinking and writing of Tolkien and Lewis.

18. Animal Farm by George Orwell. To my shame, this is the only Orwell book I have read.  This is an allegorical tale about the events leading to the Russian Revolution.

19. Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest by Dr. Edward Welch. This is an excellent practical book on how the Scriptures speak directly to those of us who struggle with fear, worry and anxiety.

20. Biblical Counseling and the Church: God’s Care through God’s People edited by Dr. Robert Kellemen and Dr. Kevin Carson.  This is the best book I have read on developing a culture of counseling in the local church.  It is written by practitioners for the local church.

21. The Pastor and Counseling: The Basics of Shepherding Members in Need by Dr. Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju.  Pastors often look at counseling members as a distraction from ministry.  We need to be reminded that counseling members is ministry.  I recommend this to pastors and those in seminary.

22. Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem by Dr. Robert D. Jones.  This is an excellent book on adopting a biblical worldview on anger and the discipline of self control. Dr. Jones focuses on the underlying heart conditions that motivate sinful outbursts of anger and gives the biblical remedy to repent of them.

23.The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes.  I read this years ago, but needed a refresher. God uses trials and humiliations for His purposes, for His glory.

24. Addictions A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the power of the Gospel by Dr. Edward Welch. A great work on how we are all worshipers of something.  If not of the God of the cosmos than an idol.  Those idols take the form of addictions that lead to spiritual death. We need Christ to deliver us from this.

25. The Saint’s Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter. Baxter defines everlasting rest as the happiest state a Christian can be.  Excellent, short, soul nourishing read.

26. Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus by Mark Dever.  We are all called to this task.  Why not read a book about how to effectively do it?

27. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. I disagree with 95% of the things in this book by Harvard psychologist, Dr. Gilbert.  I include it only because I think engaging with writers from a different worldview can help strengthen our worldview. Here you can find my 8 page critique of Gilbert’s book: happiness_book_review

28. Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald Whitney.  Whitney is one of my favorite living authors when it comes to biblical spirituality. My wife and I read this book together to ensure that we are growing in our love for Jesus.

29. Call the Sabbath a Delight by Walter Chantry. I cried while reading this book. That isn’t saying a lot because I cry when I read good books.  This is such a refreshing perspective on the Sabbath that today’s modern church has lost.  I can almost guarantee that you have a distorted view on the Sabbath.  This book can help to give you a biblical perspective so that you may enjoy this gift from God.

30. How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong by Leslie Vernick.  This is a great practical book on loving your spouse.  I don’t agree with everything in it, but I do agree with the practical steps Vernick gives on how to interact with your spouse when he or she is sinning against you.  Don’t read it thinking “my spouse sins against me.” Read it thinking, “I sin against my spouse every day.”

31. Histories and Fallacies: Problems faced in the Writing of History by Carl Trueman. This is a book on the conceptual and methodological issues facing historical writing. It’s a book about writing honestly.

32. A Theology of Christian Counseling by Jay Adams.  An excellent, biblical approach to counseling by a man God used as a tool to call the church back to her responsibility to counsel and care for her members.

33. Recovering a Confessional Heritage by Arden L. Hodgins Jr., edited by James Renihan and Richard Barcellos. This is a short book on the history of confessions and creeds in the local church and our need for them today.  Documented confessions and creeds tell people what we believe about the Scripture.

34. When Sinners Say “I do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey.  This book was written in 2007, but I read it for the first time this year.  It is probably one of the best books on marriage I have ever read.  It is gospel centered and will be beneficial for you and your spouse if you choose to read it.

35. Good Mood, Bad Mood: Help and Hope for Depression and Bipolar Disorder by Charles D. Hodge, M.D. This is a book written about depression and bipolar disorder from the perspective of an MD and Biblical Counselor. It is full of scientific research and covers everything from antidepressants to the sufficiency of Scripture.

36. Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Dr. Heath Lambert.  This is an excellent guide on overcoming pornography and sexual temptation by using the gospel as a means to fight it.

37. God without Passions: A Primer by Samuel Renihan.  This book is on the immutability of God and why that matters. One of my favorites on my list this year. I highly recommend.

38. The Art of War by Sun Tzu.  Read it. Check.


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Why I Can’t Vote for Mr. Trump

It is painfully obvious that it is election year. Never is the division in this country more evident than when we are leading up to vote for the next POTUS. This year’s elections however have been revealing for conservatives, but particularly for the church. I write this for the church. This is in fact an issue in the church.  I also write this understanding the risk.  One potential consequence of this is that I will be on the receiving end of insults and petty bickering- none of which I will engage in.  More than that, I run the risk of having my name slandered and my faith questioned.  This gets to the heart of why I’m willing to engage with this topic.  I believe for far too long the church has struggled with the idolatry of nationalism.  The church has allowed the identity, American to become greater than the identity, Christian. The church somewhere along the way, began to use the Republican party interchangeably with our identity as followers of Christ.

Now I believe that the gospel touches everything. And our vote for the next POTUS is not off limits from our identity and calling as believers.  Consider our identity for a moment:

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3 NASB).

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30 NASB).

I could go on and on with passages reminding you of who you are in Christ Jesus, but my point is that by God’s grace you are different.  Because you are different you grow to love and cherish the things God loves; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23) and hate the things God hates; immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing…” (Galatians 5:20-21).

These should be important to believers and we cannot isolate their importance with the God-given opportunity we have to vote. Every single thing you do is a reflection about what you believe regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Now, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to my point and here it is:  We cannot abandon our calling to be salt and light and ambassadors for our King, Jesus in this year’s election. Neither candidate demonstrates the integrity or morality a believer should look for in a Commander-in-Chief.  I have been extremely disappointed by how quickly we have neglected our responsibility to hold our government accountable to be God’s servant for our good (Romans 13:4).  We have lied to ourselves and justified supporting Mr. Donald Trump as a Republican candidate by telling ourselves the lie that he is actually a better candidate (put positively) or a lesser evil (put negatively) than Hillary Clinton.  I have heard the rhetoric that we so easily buy in to: “a vote for a third party is a vote for Hillary.” This is simply preposterous and totally ignores the call that God has given us to be good stewards.  Yes, stewardship extends even to the voting booth.  Even if voting for a 3rd party meant voting for Hillary, what is your God-given vote worth to you?  Does character matter for one of the most powerful jobs in the world?  Christians for years have bemoaned the state of our government and the blatant immorality forced on American citizens.  It is interesting that we so quickly seek to exchange one immorality for another.  Donald Trump is asking us to hire him to represent us. Let me say that another way.  Donald Trump is asking you as a Christian to vote for him so that he can speak on your behalf.  Is this really what you want?  This is a man who doesn’t value freedom of speech.  This is a man who says that he will force department stores to say Merry Christmas.  This is a man who doesn’t ask for forgiveness because he doesn’t make mistakes.  This is a man who takes fidelity lightly.  This is a man who has flip flopped on abortion more times than I can remember.  This is a man who is heavily invested in pornography.  This is a man who isn’t ashamed or bashful about adultery or incestuous desires.  He has stated multiple times that he will kill the families of terrorists revealing further his low value for life.  Donald Trump is a man who says what he has to say to get the vote.   He is the biggest politician of them all. He is hot-headed, petty and insulting and he asks us to vote for him and allow him to negotiate on the world stage.  Furthermore these blatant character issues seem to be ignored by Christians at best or celebrated as being “politically incorrect” (a phrase I still don’t understand) at worst.  I have heard the catchy phrase, “I’m not electing a pastor”.  That is true.  At the very least though I am electing a deacon whose charge is to promote morality according to Romans 13.


God, in His grace and mercy has revealed one of our idols.  We are so quick to compromise our gospel convictions in a futile effort to “win” America back to however we think it should be.  Our hopes are sorely misplaced.  We must have a higher aim.  Our aim should be to promote the supremacy of God over all things.  We must not allow our allegiance to a political party to cast a shadow over the primary calling to be ambassadors for the one who has authority in heaven and on earth.  What good is it if Christians set aside convictions in order to win an election? I’m becoming more and more convinced that God is concerned about process.  Not just the beginning and end, but the process.  Are we honoring God in our process by voting for a man who is the antithesis of everything Christians stand for and believe?

For further reading you can check out Dr. Albert Mohler’s post on the importance of character for the next POTUS.


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Trump, Abortion & Our Response as Christians


I didn’t care to write this post. In fact, I even delayed writing with the hopes that I could just put it out of my mind.  I’m increasingly convicted though. I’m convicted because I have an obligation to those in my ministry context however large or small that may be.

Therefore, I write with Hebrews 13:17 in mind which states,

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”

The part in this passage that weighs on me is “keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”

I am accountable to God for the people He allows me to shepherd, so I decided to write.

This last year has been quite unique for the conservative movement and by God’s grace has brought many problems to the forefront for all to see.  The rise of Mr. Donald Trump has divided the conservative party and has really revealed that conservatives aren’t that conservative after all.

His strong poll numbers have only demonstrated further the idolatry of Americanism and the blind commitment to a divided political party with the letter “R” behind it.  Mr. Trump has been degrading, insulting and his policies are taken straight from his book “The Art of the Deal” in an effort to win the presidency by any means necessary.  Mr. Trump is not a friend to conservative values and he lacks the class, tactfulness and humility required of a United States President. My conscience will not allow me to vote for this man even if he gets the GOP nomination.

Last week however, Donald Trump said something logical. Something truly pro-life. In an interview by Chris Matthews at an MSNBC Town Hall, Mr. Trump stated that he backed an abortion ban and suggested that women be punished if the procedure were outlawed.

Now, since then he has flip flopped as he does in most every ill-thought-out position he temporarily promotes (besides “the wall”, of course).  But I want to give attention to his statement and draw attention to the backlash he received from the pro-life movement and from some Christians that I deeply respect and have learned much from.

Forget the source of the statement for a moment.  Forget Mr. Trump altogether and just consider the statement on its own merit.

Ban abortion and punish women who circumvent the new law to have abortions.

Now, I am pro-life because God’s law requires me to be. I can’t maintain a Christian worldview and advocate for abortion.

Exodus 20:13 states, “You shall not murder.” Furthermore, Deuteronomy 27:25 states, “Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.  And all the people shall say, ‘Amen’.

When I view abortion through God’s Word, the only conclusion I can come to is that it is murder.  Plain and simple.  I’ve heard the pro-life movement state that abortion is the “taking of an innocent life.” I agree and believe that is the very definition of murder.
Now I understand that there are victims involved other than the pre-born child.  There are women who are manipulated by the abortion mill, Planned Parenthood and begin to buy into the lie that abortion is the most loving thing they could possibly do for their pre-born child.

There are others though.  Those who advocate and have abortions because their rights trump that of their pre-born child’s rights.

Mrs. Hillary Clinton went on the record to state that pre-born children have no constitutional rights. Senator Bernie Sanders did this as well by solidifying Mrs. Clinton’s position.

When hearing statements like this I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 1:21-25:

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.  Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

These are not victims and abortion is murder. Now, let’s think logically for a moment.  If abortion is murder and it becomes outlawed (as it should be) what does that make those who willingly have abortions and those who perform the abortion? Murderers? Absolutely. Should they be processed by the justice system as such? Absolutely.

I want to dig deeper into this though.  Dr. Russell Moore, whom I deeply respect and am proud to call a brother in Christ and Joe Carter from The Gospel Coalition, (an organization I have also benefited from) have put forward extremely unbiblical statements regarding Mr. Trump’s comments about abortion.  You can find Dr. Moore’s here and Mr. Carter on behalf of The Gospel Coalition’s here.

One excerpt from both:

“A consistent pro-life position can maintain that a woman who has an abortion may be morally culpable in the taking of an innocent life, and yet still recognize that in the interest of compassion and proximate justice (e.g., ensuring the conviction of abortionists) she should be treated solely as a second victim and not as a first accomplice.”  Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

“One of the worst misconceptions about pro-life Americans is that we are pro-baby and anti-women.” Russell Moore

In Dr. Moore’s article, he equates punishing women who have abortions to being “anti-women”.  I respectfully consider his statements to be anti-gospel and the complete antithesis of his book “Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel” (which I highly recommend). And Carter’s article doesn’t even attempt to interact with the Word of God (in which the whole pro-life movement should be based on if it wants to succeed).  The flawed logic in Carter’s post should be evident in the quote above. He states that a woman can be held “morally responsible” but that she should also be treated as a “victim”.  I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand that logic.

I would even venture to say that these two posts are irresponsible and unloving and as mentioned above, anti-gospel.  When I counsel someone at our local church who has committed a sin or is caught in a habitual sin, let’s say, pornography.  It does no good for me to treat this person as a victim.  It does no good for me to spend time blaming the pornography industry for his sinful addiction (although the pornography industry will be held accountable by God for its immorality).  Blaming the industry for this specific man’s adultery does no good in helping him to see his sin so that he can repent of his sin and be reconciled to God.

Isn’t that the aim, Christian? Isn’t the most loving thing we can do is labor with someone caught in sin so that they can repent of sin and trust in their Savior, Christ?

1st John 1:8-9 states,

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Respectfully, my question to Dr. Moore, Mr. Carter and the offended pro-life movement is, “Is it sinful for a woman to have an abortion?” If so, which sin has she committed? Furthermore, how will you counsel them for the glory of God and the sake of their souls?

The pro-life movement is a failing, powerless movement that will fizzle out if we do not look to the Scripture to define how we engage with this important issue.

I care for pre-born children and I care for the mothers of these pre-born children.

Therefore, I pray for them, I call abortion murder.  Those who have them and conduct them are in fact, murderers. I plead with them not to murder their child, I point them to local pregnancy centers and I share the unadulterated gospel message in the hopes that God might save their souls as He graciously saved me- the chief of sinners.

I would encourage you this Friday to tune into Apologia Radio’s event called “End Abortion Now” airing this Friday.

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Preventing Poverty of the Soul: Praying the Scriptures


Over the last few weeks I have been encouraging you in what can be called the “spiritual disciplines”. If you are behind in this series of posts, click here to be redirected to my initial post in the “Preventing Poverty” blog series.  Today, I want to encourage you in the joyful discipline of praying the Scriptures.

I have never met anyone satisfied with their prayer life. Now, I want to be careful when making a statement like that.  Far too often, I think the act of prayer can become idolatry.  The discipline of prayer is not the end goal.  Communion with God should be the priority of our hearts.  This is convicting to me.  Do I pray seeking communion with the God of the cosmos made possible by the life, death and resurrection of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit?

How can I pray in a way that honors the Lord who is faithful to hear my prayers?

I truly believe that one of the reasons God gave us the Scriptures is to direct us to pray God-centered, gospel saturated prayers.

Consider, the prayer Jesus taught the disciples understanding that His teaching is relevant for you and me:

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Pray then like this:  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:7-13 ESV)

Consider  what Jesus is saying in this passage:

  1. Don’t babble with meaningless, repetitious words.  God isn’t impressed by the quantity of your prayer.
  2. Our prayers begin and end with being God-centered.
    1. God is in heaven. (V9)
    2. God is holy. (V9)
    3. God’s will is done in heaven. (10)
    4. God’s will is being done on earth. (10)
    5. God is the giver of our daily portion. (11)
    6. God is the forgiver of sin. (12)
    7. God’s grace and mercy causes us to forgive others. (12)
    8. God is not a tempter and gives the grace to endure temptations. (13; 1st Corinthians 10:13)
    9. God, in Christ delivers us from evil. (13; John 16:33)

This prayer is so rich.  It reminds me of how much I compromise in my own prayer life.  God has given us this precious gift of prayer and has even demonstrated how to do it all throughout His word.  If you find that your prayer life seems dull and repetitious, be encouraged by praying the Scriptures. Maybe start here with the Lord’s prayer.  Maybe pray through a few verses in the Psalms on a daily basis.  I can testify that if you do this, you may begin to look forward to communing with God through the joy of prayer.


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Preventing Poverty of the Soul: Bible Intake


A few weeks ago, I wrote a short post about preventing poverty of the soul and today I’d like to revisit that post by teasing out the 6 practical steps I mentioned as you cultivate your affections for Christ and hatred for sin.  The first discipline I made mention of is Bible intake.  Consider the words of the Psalmist regarding God’s Word:

“In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches” (Psalm 119:14)

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” (Psalm 119:25)

“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” (Psalm 119:28)

“My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:81)

“Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” (Psalm 119:111)

These are just a few of the myriad of passages describing the Word of God.  Do you think of God’s Word the way the Psalmist does? He associates the Word of God with words like; “riches”, “delight”, “clings”, “longs”, “joy”, “life”,  “strength”, “hope”, “heritage”. Now I want you to really consider the Psalmist’s conclusions about God’s Word because it’s easy to agree  if you’re a believer. If you agree with the Psalmist, I want you to evaluate how you apply your belief. Evaluating the application of your belief about the Word of God (and any other core conviction for that matter) should be enlightening to you. Bible intake is an essential discipline for the Christian and as you cherish it, you should long for it more and more.  The Psalmist longed for the Scriptures.  The Psalmist feasted on the Scriptures.

Is this evident in your life? Most of us have good intentions, but we deceive ourselves by believing that we will get around to it eventually… when things calm down… when the children are in bed… when we’re not as tired… when that big project at school is finished… when we meet that deadline at work… never mind.

“You must learn to do the things that prepare you for eternity with your life unsettled.” I believe it was Donald Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who said that. It’s stuck with me for years. What are the things you should be doing now to prepare for eternity? What are the things you should be doing now so that you can glorify God with each day He has gifted you to steward?

Here is my suggestion as you seek to become disciplined in the area of Bible intake:

Get. Up. Early.

This may look different for different people.

I really try to maintain the discipline of waking up before everyone else does. It’s quiet, I grab a cup of coffee and I commune with the Lord by reading His Word and applying it to my life. When by God’s grace, I maintain this precious discipline- it’s deeply refreshing and such a blessing to my soul.

Prevent poverty of the soul by daily feasting on the riches of God’s Word.

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Preventing Poverty of the Soul


Last week, I wrote about the danger of becoming a consumer as a Christian.  This week, I want to give you two common excuses I hear from people who are entangled in the sin of consumerism and find it difficult to spend time with Christ.  This is something we all struggle with on a daily basis in some form or fashion.

Excuse number one goes like this:

It is too difficult.

The alarm goes off, it’s early and cold and you’re faced with the daunting decision to either roll out of the bed or hit the snooze button for just a bit more sleep.  I faced that temptation just this morning.  I face that temptation every morning. Consider Proverbs 6:9-11 “How long will you lie there O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”I certainly think there are a couple of things that can be taken from this passage.  First, the natural reading of this text implies actual poverty.  Laziness and slothfulness in life is sure to produce poverty regarding finances, food, home, etc.  Work is good and should not be avoided.  God did in fact institute work before the fall (Genesis 2:15).  A man should work hard and sleep well because of a good days work. The second truth I believe we can pull from this text is a poverty of one’s spiritual life. Certainly the man who slumbers and doesn’t work does so because he has poverty in his soul.  Poverty of one’s soul is the root of the problem.  The soul must be nourished in the richness of the word of God. Deuteronomy 8:3 states, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Jesus applies this in Matthew 4:4 when he encounters Satan. Where are the words that come from the mouth of the LORD? They are in the Scripture.  If you want to hear God speak, go to His written Word.

Excuse number two that is common among most people is;

I’m too busy with responsibilities.

It is important to remember that God has given each of us the same amount of time. We must be honest about what’s most important to us.  Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” The way to overcome this common, but empty excuse is to admit that the Lord doesn’t have first place in your life and to repent of it.  It’s only when we have an eternal perspective on the gift of this life that we will begin to steward it well for the Kingdom of God.  God’s plan for your life is for you to present your life as a living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1-2) and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  This can only happen when your own soul is being nourished.

Here are some practical things to put in place to ensure your soul is nourished. It’s by no means exhaustive and I caution you not to apply them legalistically.  We will explore these things in the weeks to come.  For now, I will just list them:

  1. Set aside a daily quiet time filled with Bible intake and prayer.
  2. Meditate on the Scripture you read throughout the day by picking a portion of it and praying it back to the LORD.
  3. Read good books.  I suggest the Puritans.
  4. Attend and serve in the Lord’s day worship at a local church.
  5. Faithfully plug into a small group that takes God’s Word seriously.
  6. Confess and repent of sin regularly as you believe the gospel daily.

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Approaching Sunday: “The God Who Is”



As we draw near to our new sermon series this week called “Coastal because…” I thought that it would be appropriate to equip you to begin thinking about Pastor Shaun’s sermon this week: “The God Who Is”.  As you prayerfully prepare to worship corporately this Sunday, consider this excerpt from the 1689 Confession of Faith:

“The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of Himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, and withal most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.”

This is a succinct definition of ‘the God who is’ rooted in Scripture.  It was interpreted and believed by theologically conservative men, particularly reformed Baptists in church history. The only reason we can approach the God of the Scripture is because of Jesus’ person and actions and our union with Him.  It is beneficial for us to think high thoughts about God as He depicts Himself in His Word. We should do this often for His glory and our good. I want to encourage you this weekend as we prepare for Sunday to spend some time with your family and/or friends studying the Scriptures and considering ‘the God who is’ so that you may worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  Some passages to mediate on include; 1st Cor. 8:4;6; Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10; Is. 48:12; Ex. 3:14; John 4:24; 1 Tim. 1:17; Deut. 4:15, 16; Mal. 3:6; 1 Kin. 8:27; Jer. 23:23; Ps. 90:2; Gen. 17:1; Is. 6:3; Ps. 115:3; Is. 46:10; Pr. 16:4; Rom. 11:36; Ex. 34:6,7; Heb. 11:6; Neh. 9:32,33; Ps. 5:5,6; Ex. 34:7; Nah. 1:2,3.

Below is our order of Service for this Sunday:

Hosanna (Praise is Rising) (Matthew 21:9)

Welcome and Announcements

Responsive Reading: Psalm 97

In Tenderness (1st Corinthians 6:10; 1st Peter 1:18-19; Romans 5:8)

Come Thou Fount (1st Samuel 7:12)

Lord of Lords (Revelation 5:13)

Prayer (Psalm 32:1-5)

Sermon: “The God Who Is” (Gen. 1:1; Eccl. 3:11; Lev. 19:1-2; Is. 6; John 3:16; Rom. 8:39; Gal. 3:26; Luke 15:17-20)

Tithes and Offering

Benediction (Romans 15:13)  and Closing Song (Hosanna (Praise is Rising))


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