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How JRR Tolkein Helped Lead C.S. Lewis to Faith by Eric Metaxas

Take a Test on the Trinity shared by Tim Challies. I got a 32/33…I think I misunderstood what one question was asking!

8 Characteristics of Sanctification. A great article by Dustin Crowe at Gospel Centered Discipleship

How to Determine a Doctrine’s Importance shared by Justin Taylor

Faithful Christians are Thinking Christians by Aaron Armstrong

A sermon I enjoyed this week was from 2 Peter 1:4 and called The Promises of God. The preacher: Martyn Lloyd Jones.

Worldwide Abortion Policies from the Pew Research Center (interactive map)

School Buses, Limos, and Christian Art: How to Appreciate War Room by Jimmy Needham. I saw the movie and liked it; and also appreciated this article by Jimmy Needham.

This won’t be applicable to all of you, but the organization I serve with just received research data tracking the fruit of our ministry. You can read bullet points of the results or see the summary statement one of the third-party researchers shared:

“Your training is like a slow, soaking rain that softens and saturates the ground over a long period of time.”

Something I shared on my Facebook page: how the Christian life feels sometimes.


A Great Time-Lapse Video of Chicago

The Law (from The Bible Project)

I recently ran across an old but extremely helpful illustration from the Navigators that helps believers understand the wide array of ways to interact with and learn from the Bible. It’s called “The Word Hand“.

With their permission, I reproduce their helpful text and illustration and below. (You can also print their PDF.)

5 Methods of Learning from the Bible - Verses on Scripture Reading Study and MeditationHearing / Romans 10:17

Hearing the Word from godly pastors and teachers provides insight into others’ study of the Scriptures as well as stimulating your own appetite for the Word.

Reading / Revelation 1:3

Reading the Bible gives an overall picture of God’s Word. Many people find it helpful to use a daily reading program which takes them systematically through the Bible.

Studying / Acts 17:11

Studying the Scriptures leads to personal discoveries of God’s truths. Writing these discoveries helps you organize and remember them.

Memorizing / Psalm 119:9, 11

Memorizing God’s Word enables use of the Sword of the Spirit to overcome Satan and temptations…to have it readily available for witnessing or helping others with a “word in season.”

Meditating / Psalm 1:2, 3

Meditation is the thumb of the Word Hand, for it is used in conjunction with each of the other methods. Only as you meditate on God’s Word–thinking of its meaning and application in your life–will you discover its transforming power at work within you.

I love how meditation brings it all together—to a heart level. Hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing are all great—but the heart that delights in Scripture doesn’t stop at any of those; it makes the Word it’s constant meditation. And that, according to Psalm 1, is blessed by God.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Related Posts:

J I Packer on the Christian Life Crossway Cover Sam StormsFor some reason I’ve stayed away from reading Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series.

This isn’t because I didn’t want to read the books. Maybe I thought reading one of them cause me to want to read the entire works of fill-in-the-blank great theologian (which I don’t have time for right now!). Or maybe it would make me want to break my book budget and buy all of the volumes in this ever growing series (they have some great new titles coming out soon, including Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John Bunyan).

But I couldn’t hold off any longer after seeing Sam Storms’ new volume on J.I. Packer. I’ve enjoyed a few classics by Packer: Knowing God and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God among others, and have always appreciated his clarity,  theological precision, and pastoral sensitivity—he gets that theology isn’t just about head knowledge but worship. I also look to Packer as a bit of a theological father—not because I’ve read extensively of his works, but because I know so many of my contemporary influences were greatly influenced by him.

But enough on Packer as a man and more on Storms’ Packer on the Christian Life.

This volume, like others in the series, is somewhat of an overview of Packer’s theology that interweaves biographical information that shaped his life, theology, and ministry. Readers learn how being hit by a car took away any chance of athletic prowess and confined him to be a more thoughtful bookworm. They learn how and why Packer sided with John Stott over Martyn Lloyd-Jones in a controversy of the church of England in the 1960′s, and how that event’s fallout affected Packer deeply.

The twelve chapters begin with a biographical sketch of “Packer the Person: A Puritan, Theological Exegete, and Latter-Day Catechist”, before moving on to discuss Packer’s theology by topic: atonement, Biblical authority, holiness, sanctification, the battle with indwelling sin, the person of the Holy Spirit, prayer, guidance, suffering, theocentric living, and ending well.

Storms interweaves an explanation of Packer’s theology with lengthy quotes that dig deep into Packer’s body of writing that has spanned over seven decades. I appreciated how Storms gave weight to many of Packer’s key influences, like the Puritans and especially John Owen.

An especially helpful feature of the book is Storms’ description of Packer’s battle against “Let go and let God” theology (Keswick theology) that said you only need to trust that God will make you holy and that your efforts only amount to legalism and a lack of trust. This led Packer to despair because he could never trust God enough to sanctify him completely. John Owen was the remedy that would shape Packer’s theology of sanctification and indwelling sin. As Packer dug into Owen’s The Mortification of Sin, he said, “Here was God’s chemo for my cancered soul.”

Packer on the Christian Life is more than just a helpful intro to the life and doctrine of a great theologian—it is rich, yet digestible, and provides an overview of Packer’s theology that isn’t shallow, but rather at a depth that will allow readers to experience Packer and his theology in as comprehensive of a way that a 224 page book can provide. I can see myself turning back to specific chapters for biblically-grounded insights on holiness/sanctification, prayer, the Spirit, and more.

I recommend this book (and the series) to anyone looking to know Packer the man and get a overview of his theology that will both satisfy you with it’s riches and whet your appetite to dig more into Packer’s body of work. Busy pastors will find this helpful as will laymen who want accessible yet profound theology.

While you can’t make a “Greatest Hits” album for a theologian—Packer on the Christian Life (and others in the series) comes close to offering just that. Read it, mark it up, and live it out by God’s grace and for His glory.

Title: Packer on the Christian Life
Publisher: Crossway
Year: 2015
Author: Sam Storms
Rating: 5 Stars

An interview with Sam Storms, Leland Ryken, and Justin Taylor on J.I. Packer’s life

In his short book How to Walk into Church (my review), Tony Payne describes the ‘ministry of turning up’*, that is, attending church:

One of the most important acts of love and encouragement we can all engage in is the powerful encouragement of just being there—because every time I walk into church, I am wearing a metaphorical t-shirt that says, “God is important to me, and you are important to me”. And on the back it says, “And that’s why I wouldn’t dream of missing this.”

Similarly, when we stay away for no good reason one week out of three (or more), we send the opposite message.

None of the important things God has for us to do in church each week can happen if we’re not there. We can’t love people; we can’t talk to them and encourage them; we can’t gather with them to listen together to God’s Word. All of this hangs on the rather simple prerequisite of actually being there.

And so perhaps the most important thing you can do before you walk into church is simply to plan to show up—every week—unless some emergency intervenes. Church needs to move into that category of non-negotiable fixtures around which we plan other things. (Pages 36-37)

Showing up to church of course is not all that is recommended, it is merely the starting point (the book’s purpose is to provide more guidance). But we can’t escape that faithful attendance is such an integral part to ministering to others and living as the body of Christ in obedience to Hebrews 10:24-25:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

When we show up to church, ask the following questions:

  • How can I worship God as I participate in the service/activities?
  • How can I stir others up toward love and good works?
  • Who can I encourage today?
  • Who needs encouragement throughout the week, and how can I encourage them?
  • Is there an encouraging passage of Scripture that I can share with a few people today?

And if your church attendance is not what it should be, don’t be surprised if you lack desire passion for the Lord and get discouraged easily. You are not taking seriously the grace God provides through His Word, corporate prayer and worship, and fellowship. Make it your aim to repent and, for God’s sake, commit yourself to attending church regularly and seeking to encourage others.

If you don’t have a church, you might consider looking for one in one of these recommended directories:

* I chose the title to include “showing up” over “turning up” because it sounds more natural…for me at least. Hope I don’t offend any Aussies with this choice ;o). (For me, a ‘turn up’ is a plant!)


Free book for Kindle: Saved Without A Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation by John MacArthur

Also great Kindle deals on many in New American Commentary Series (Old and New Testaments)

On Bill Nye’s Scientific foibles on abortion: Back to Science Class for the Science Guy

Is the Pope really the Successor of the Apostle Peter? A very helpful and important article by Gregg Allison. If you read anything, read the last section “What Evangelicals Believe” for a go-to Scripture passage showing Peter thought Scripture was the foundation for the post-apostolic era.

I enjoyed reading Emily Armstrong’s testimony in Christianity Today Bahai Faith to Porn to Alpha to Jesus. My love for testimonies has grown recently as they serve to remind me of the miracle of salvation and how God is at work all around us. (A couple of recent testimonies I shared: Burk Parsons and serial killer David Berkowitz)

One of my heroes talking about one of my favorite topics: Some Thoughts on Reading Books by Albert Mohler

Injury Interrupted My Idolatry by Landry Fields. An exciting tale how an article on Desiring God served to wake up an NBA player to his idolatry and empty life.

Michael Jordan has not left the building. This long-form article has a lot of lessons to teach about contentment, satisfaction in life, and emptiness. Even if you’re not a 90′s Chicago kid and Bulls fan like me, you should enjoy this one.

3 Perspectives on Calling in which my friend Bill Pence unpacks wisdom from Matt Perman, Os Guiness, and Jeff Goins related to calling.

How were Old Testament believers saved? (David Murray)

Foolish Christian - Bible Verses on Fools

When you read how Scripture defines a fool, who first jumps to mind?

For me, it’s always someone else.

I don’t consider myself a fool, at least not very high up there on the “foolishness index” Scripture provides in the book of Proverbs.

But reading Ephesians 5:15-21 tells me something different. Paul says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise” (15). This warns me that without intentionality to walk in wisdom, I can quickly drift toward foolish living.

Paul’s commands in that passage are challenging.

They tell me I’m not wise by default.

They tell me that I can look wise and accomplished to the world and the church; but to God, I’m, well, a fool at times.

While Paul doesn’t provide an exhaustive description of what foolishness looks like, he does share three key elements of what it looks like to live wisely. Wise believers are to make “the best use of time” (16), “understand what the will of the Lord is” (17), and “be filled with the Spirit” (18).

In my time studying this passage, I felt a special bite of conviction when I flipped the positive commands into negative descriptions of what a foolish Christian looked like.

3 Telltale Signs You Are a Foolish Christian

1. You don’t care about wasting time.

If you surf the internet without aim for hours on end, constantly browse your Twitter feed, or watch TV like the average American (five hours daily)—you might be a foolish Christian.

Life is a vapor (James 4:14). Each hour wasted is an hour that you can and will never get back. Wise Christians, like Moses, pray for God to teach them to number their days to gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Observing our distracted society gives Moses’ prayer special relevance today. Numbering our days involves numbering our hours and even minutes that can are easily lost without intentionality and the right priorities.

Why are we to make the best use of time? We live in evil days (Ephesians 5:16). Our enemy is on the prowl and wants us to waste our lives and effectiveness for Christ. An estimated 150,000 die each day, many of whom do not know the One True God. Christian—make it your aim in life to make the most of your time in these evil days. You’re a part of a spiritual war and can advance the cause of Christ by stewarding your God-give time on earth wisely. Don’t be a fool.

Foolish Bible Verses Pinterest2. You don’t seek to understand the will of the Lord.

God’s will is not some magical lock-box we only unlock by luck, incantation, or owning a certain number of Petra CDs. God wants us to know His will for us; that’s why He has revealed it to us in the Scriptures. We know what to believe, how to live, and our part in God’s mission on earth through the Scriptures. They contain everything we need for righteous living and for bearing fruit. Everything (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Through prayerful obedience to the Word and a faithful pursuit of Christ we can know and follow God’s will for our lives and grow in His wisdom (Romans 12:1-2; John 14:21; Psalm 19:7).

Foolishness comes by neglecting Scripture and prayer, avoiding commitment to a local church, or simply by making no effort to discern how to live a life that pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10).

Christian, don’t be a fool: understand the will of the Lord and live accordingly.

3. You don’t live by the Spirit.

Believers are powerless to live the way God wants and accomplish what He has for us if we don’t let God live through us by His Spirit. Foolish Christians may be living in their own power either in ignorance (they just aren’t aware of how to walk by the Spirit) or by choice (they may be mad at God or be unwilling to repent for their sin).

According to Paul, the Spirit-controlled is characterized by:

addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:19-21

This means that from both our hearts and lips there will be a natural flow of Scriptural truths and deep thankfulness to others and the Lord.

Not living by the Spirit may mean Christians feel far from God, have trouble getting in the Scriptures (John 14:26), struggle with assurance (1 John 3:24), lack guidance (Romans 8:14), live defeated by sin (Romans 8:13), and lack power in evangelism (Acts 1:8).

Christian—live by the Spirit. Make melody in your heart toward God through singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Make your heart happy in God as you read Scripture and remember His faithfulness to you in the past, His provision for you in the present, and the future grace you will receive when Christ returns. Give thanks to God for all He has done for you in Christ. Plug your life into the divine power source that makes living the Christian life not only possible, but filled with joy.

The good news, if you have found yourself a foolish Christian at times, there’s still hope. The foolish Christian who repents by taking Ephesians 5:16-18 to heart will lay a solid foundation for a life filled with wisdom.

My hope is that you would take this message to heart and examine your life. You’d be a fool not to.