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$0.99 Kindle Book: Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson

Why Are Atheist Athletes Rare? Dr. Jim Spiegel

10 Historical Myths About World Christianity by Brian Stanley

Gay Christianity: Toward a Theological and Pastoral Response by Owen Strachan

Christianity Today’s 2014 Book Awards

Moses without the Supernatural: Ridley Scott’s Moses: Gods and Kings by Albert Mohler

J.I. Packer on Pilgrim’s Progress from Tony Reinke

John Piper answers: “I’ve never read the Bible, where should I start?”
His advice is to start in the gospel of Mark (shorter) or John (longer and more detailed), and then move to Romans (a more systematic approach to faith) or Acts (the continuing story).

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louis-zamperini-biography-documentary-olympics-billy-graham

In many ways, Louis Zamperini is a real-life Forrest Gump. I don’t mean to say that he’s a little slow, rather he has lived one of the most interesting lives you could think of.

A former Olympic athlete who met Adolf Hitler during the 1936 Olympics in Germany, Zamperini soon found himself stranded on a raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days while fighting in World War II. Zamperini and his raft-mate were captured by the Japanese and held in POW camps until the end of the war. And that’s just the beginning. His story is documented in Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption and now a movie directed by Angelina Jolie.

As I shared in some thoughts on the movie, a movie cannot do justice to the interesting and encouraging life of Zamperini. To pick off where the movie left off, I found some great videos that tell more of Louis’ story, with an emphasis on his post-war spiritual life ignited by a dramatic conversion story at a Billy Graham crusade. Enjoy!

Unbroken – Official Trailer

CBS produced this documentary called “The Great Zamperini” for the 1998 Olympics

Zamperini Shares His Testimony at Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade in 1958 (around 5:00 mark)

Louis Zamperini at the Billy Graham Library

Louis Zamperini: 47 Days at Sea

Louis Zamperini – “Unbroken” by Men, Humbled by Jesus

Faith: Louis Zamperini reads his Letter to the Bird

Unbroken: What the Movie Doesn’t Say about Louis Zamperini (featuring Zamperini’s son)

Greg Laurie Louis Zamperini LA Harvest Interview

WWII hero and alumnus Louis Zamperini visits USC Annenberg class

Louis Zamperini Memorial

USC Trojan Marching Band Tribute to Louis Zamperini Halftime Show (if you can sit through bad camera work, this is pretty neat)

Last week, I had the opportunity to see an advanced screening of the movie Unbroken, which documents the events in the incredible life of World War II veteran Louis Zamperini. (This post will share spoilers–so consider yourself warned!) The movie documents Zamperini’s childhood delinquency, running career (including competing in Hitler’s Olympics in 1936), and service and in World War II (during which he was stranded at sea for weeks on end and imprisoned in Japanese prisoner of war camps).

The movie was inspired by Laura Hillenbrand’s epic biography Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. There aren’t many books I would describe as “perfect”, but Unbroken is certainly one of them. Hillenbrand’s masterful storytelling, character development, and historical backgrounds captivate readers and make them feel like they are in Zamperini’s shoes as his unbelievable story unfolds. I couldn’t put Unbroken down. When I was done reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing story for weeks.

Naturally, when I heard that Zamperini’s story would be turned into a movie, I was at first thrilled, but the thrill waned as I thought of what it might actually look like on the silver screen.

Whenever a book is turned to a movie, book-lovers will have a healthy-amount of skepticism toward the movie’s faithfulness to a book the love. For me, the faith-element of the film amplified my skepticism, for obvious reasons (just think of last year’s Noah movie). A movie by an unbeliever for unbelievers–even a story with Christian themes–should be recognized as such, and taken with a grain of salt.

As I thought about the movie, two main questions came to mind:

  1. Will the movie do justice to the book?
  2. How will the movie portray the faith journey of Zamperini?

1. Will the movie do justice to the book?

The answer to this question is no, as it usually is with a book-turned-movie, for two related reasons: time and medium.

  • Time: The Unbroken book probably took me at least a dozen hours to read. The Unbroken movie was about two and a half hours. It is impossible to cram all of the interesting elements of Zamperini’s story into one movie of that length. (Not every book can be broken apart into three movies like The Hobbit.) The movie cannot go as in depth with characters, experiences, or history like the book does. It should be obvious, and in the end, the movie seemed to skim the surface of a miraculous story. If Angelina Jolie (the film’s director) had chosen to do two movies or a six-part miniseries on the life of Zamperini, then the brilliance of the book might have translated better to film.
  • Medium: Reading a book is a very different experience from seeing a movie. Books draw you in and force you to create images in your head and often allow more reflection and interaction due to having gaps in between reading that allow readers to think. Movies do much of the imaginative work for you. This is one reason why book-lovers never seem to be fully satisfied with the movie versions of their favorite stories, and one reason why Unbroken the movie left me craving more. The Unbroken movie did not do justice to the book. It was never meant to.

2. How will the movie portray the faith journey of Zamperini?

While I don’t call Unbroken a “Christian book,” it is a book of interest to many Christians by showing the conversion story of an incredible man and how the grace of God in Christ allowed him to forgive even his most bitter enemies. So in that sense, the book had special significance for many Christians, including myself.

Before I saw the movie, I was skeptical that producers would use it just to sell tickets by catering to a crowd they know will pay, namely, Christians. Seeing the movie left me torn. (And here’s where the biggest spoilers begin…) I knew that the movie couldn’t do justice to Zamperini’s faith story, and would likely water it down.

Early in the movie, the thread of faith in a generic God begins as Louis flashes back to a childhood experience in church, where his priest says something like, “Jesus Christ saves sinners.” (A pleasant surprise.) Then, after Louis’ flight crew makes a crash landing during the war, Louis catches a crewmate praying, and tells him that his ‘mom prays sometimes.’ And perhaps the most crucial faith moment in the movie comes while Louis is stranded on a raft in the Pacific Ocean during a terrible storm. Louis cries out to God saying he will dedicate his life to Him if he helps him survive the storm. (A clip of this scene is of course shown in some versions of the trailer).

While there may have been a mention of Louis’ faith or of God later in the movie, they were not memorable for me. The movie ends soon after the war’s end, about 80% of the way through the book’s story. It fails to tell how Louis’ life back in the States started in glory–but then after marrying unraveled due to post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism that nearly cost him his marriage and his life.

The man who remained unbroken while being stranded at sea, facing the depths of human depravity by being beaten and tortured by the Japanese in a POW camp, became broken due to the depths of own sin and pain in his life. Failing to show this is possibly the film’s biggest failure.

What was not mentioned in the film was that during some of his darkest post-war moments, Louis reluctantly attended a Billy Graham crusade after his wife’s begging–and his life forever changed as he understood the gospel of Jesus Christ and put his faith in the Savior. The movie attempts to touch on this with a few short narrating sentences at the close of the movie, but much is lost. I can understand difficult choices Angelina Jolie would have had to make with this story due to time constraints and the natural ending that the war’s end provided, but am still disappointed nonetheless by only telling part of his story.

Recommendation

In spite of the movie’s flaws and omissions, I think that most people will enjoy Unbroken. Unbroken is an amazing story, told compellingly on the silver screen. I enjoyed crisp visuals, solid directing, and acting.

I would recommend this movie over most movies for two main reasons. 1) It’s entertaining. 2) There is much to be appreciated from Zamperini’s story, even without being thrilled how they portray the faith element. This movie teaches lessons on perseverance through suffering, human dignity, the evils of war, and also shares real examples of the depth of sin affecting humanity from a generation past.

This movie also can be a good conversation starter for Christians, which is often the best we can expect from a Hollywood movie targeted toward the faithful. I hope a lot of Christians see the movie (after reading the book or his autobiography of course ;) ) and use Zamperini’s incredible story to have spiritually significant conversations with friends and family by asking questions like:

  • Do you know what happened the years that followed in Zamperini’s life? (PTSD, alcoholism, abusing his spouse, faith in Christ, service to Christ, and forgiveness of all the men who mistreated him in the war.)
  • What causes people to treat others like the way Zamperini was treated by ‘The Bird’ in Japan? Do you think God will judge the evil done to Louis by the Japanese in the POW camp?
  • What would make you cry out to God for help like Zamperini did on the raft?

While I’m sure that the Christian reaction to the movie will be mixed like mine, I hope that God ultimately uses it to start many gospel conversations, cause many to ponder the existence and power of God, and bring saving faith to many.

Watch the Trailer

20 of the Best Daily Bible Devotional Books

The truth be told, I’ve never made it through a whole devotional book. It’s not that I’m against devotionals, but they generally just aren’t my style. I prefer a Bible reading plan at my own pace–where I can really dig into passages each day and not feel like I’m going through the motions in my devotional reading.

Why then share a list of helpful devotionals? Enough people have asked me that I thought it would be helpful. What I share below is a wide sweep of devotionals that are faithful to Scripture and helpful for your spiritual life (all are for both men and women and/or the family). Whenever available, I share links to free online versions. Most of the descriptions are from Amazon, but a few times I share my thoughts. If you have a helpful devotional that meets that criteria, feel free to share in the comments.

(Also, the links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, a small percentage of the sale goes to me at no extra cost to you. This helps me cover blog expenses. Thanks!)

20 Recommended Daily Devotionals

1. For the Love of God Volume 1 (and Volume 2by D.A. Carson (available free on The Gospel Coalition and in Spanish Por el Amor De Dios Volumen 1Por el Amor De Dios Volumen 2)

I have used this devotional and reading plan for two years along with the men I meet with each week. As you would expect from a world-class scholar in biblical theology, Carson explains and applies one of the four passages of the reading plan and gives readers a good grasp on the Bible’s overall story. Even though the rest of this list (4-20) is not in any particular order, this is my choice for #1.

As with its companion volume, For the Love of God-Volume 2, this devotional contains a systematic 365-day plan, based on the M’Cheyne Bible-reading schedule, that will in the course of a year guide you through the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once.

In an effort to help preserve biblical thinking and living, D. A. Carson has also written thought-provoking comments and reflections regarding each day’s scriptural passages. And, most uniquely, he offers you perspective that places each reading into the larger framework of history and God’s eternal plan to deepen your understanding of his sovereignty-and the unity and power of his Word.

2. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions compiled by Arthur Bennett (now available in Spanish)

This classic book of prayers and devotions is a must-have. The rich and poetic words of this work warm up my heart in prayer and focus my eyes on our amazing God. You won’t be disappointed.

The strength of Puritan character and life lay in prayer and meditation. In this practice the spirit of prayer was regarded as of first importance and the best form of prayer, for living prayer is the characteristic of genuine spirituality. Yet prayer is also vocal and may therefore on occasions be written. Consequently in the Puritan tradition there are many written prayers and meditations which constitute an important corpus of inspiring devotional literature. Too often ex tempore prayer lacks variety, order and definiteness. The reason for this lies partly in a neglect of due preparation. It is here that the care and scriptural thoroughness which others found necessary in their approach to God may be of help. This book has been prepared not to ‘supply’ prayers but to prompt and encourage the Christian as he treads the path on which others have gone before.

3. The One Year Unlocking the Bible Devotional by Colin S. Smith and Tim Augustyn

If there is any book on this list I am unashamedly biased towards, it is this book. I grew up under Colin Smith’s teaching (and attend his church) and worked at Unlocking the Bible alongside Tim Augustyn during my seminary days. Also highly recommended: Unlocking the Bible Story 4 Volume Set and The LifeKeys Daily Bible Devotional Booklet.

Have you ever wondered how the Bible works together as a whole? Or how events from the New Testament were foreseen in the Old Testament? Pastor Colin Smith, who hosts the popular national radio program Unlocking the Bible, is the perfect guide to answering these questions and to highlighting the significant events and circumstances of the Bible.

Pastor Smith, while walking you through the Bible, will help you uncover deep truths of the Bible story. He will assist you in understanding the events, their significance and time frame, and how God weaves together the entire story. Each day’s devotion offers a selection from Scripture, an insightful teaching devotional, and an additional Scriptural reference for further study.

By the time you are finished, you will see how the major stories, conditions, and actions in the Bible can and do relate to your everyday life.

4. New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp

Mornings can be tough. Sometimes, a hearty breakfast and strong cup of coffee just aren’t enough. Offering more than a rush of caffeine, best-selling author Paul David Tripp wants to energize you with the most potent encouragement imaginable: the gospel.

Forget “behavior modification” or feel-good aphorisms. Tripp knows that what we really need is an encounter with the living God. Then we’ll be prepared to trust in God’s goodness, rely on his grace, and live for his glory each and every day.

5. Through the Bible, Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation by John Stott

Through the ages, the church year has been ordered according to God’s story found in the Bible. With every new season, believers have immersed themselves in the Scriptures, growing closer to God through his Word. In Through the Bible, Through the Year, beloved pastor John Stott takes readers through the whole biblical story, one day at a time. Each of the 365 devotions is based on a key Scripture passage and includes biblical passages for further reading. From September until Christmas, readers experience the Old Testament story from the creation until the coming of Christ. From January through April, they explore the story of Jesus in the Gospels. And from May through August they relive the story of Acts through Revelation, including God’s power for living now and his pledge of our final inheritance when Christ returns. With each reading, readers will grow closer to God and grow in their understanding of his Word.

6. The One Year Christian History (One Year Books) by E. Michael Rusten and Sharon O. Rusten

What happened on this date in church history? From ancient Rome to the twenty-first century, from peasants to presidents, from missionaries to martyrs, this book shows how God does extraordinary things through ordinary people every day of the year. Each story appears on the day and month that it occurred and includes questions for reflection and a related Scripture verse.

7. Voices From The Past – Puritan Devotional Readings by Richard Rushing

Richard Rushing has compiled this book of daily devotional readings from his favourite Puritan authors because of the great help he has gained from their Works. ‘How thrilling it has been for me to read the Puritans on the glory and attributes of God, divine providence, fellowship with God, holiness of life and the mortification of indwelling sin, heavenly mindedness, prayer, evangelistic zeal, and trust in the Lord during times of affliction. At every turn these truths are eloquently taught, faithfully applied, and kindly offered as the subject of sweet spiritual meditaion.’ This book is sent forth with the prayer that it will open a door to the vast stores of treasure to be found in the writings of the Puritans and that it will stimulate further exploration of this rich spiritual inheritance.

8. Morning and Evening Daily Readings by Charles Spurgeon

(free PDF)

A wealth of Biblical meditations from Spurgeon with applications that are relevant for contemporary Christians. Spurgeon’s characteristically pithy comments hit home with a wit and elegance rarely found in other writing. Christians young and old will find his words challenging and stimulating.

9. Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith (also read Scotty Smith’s blog for prayers)

How would life be different if you could think, see, and do all things in light of the person and work of Jesus? With this inspiring collection of 365 Scripture-centered prayers, pastor Scotty Smith helps you pray the Scriptures through the lens of the gospel, mining the great resources of God’s grace and applying them in every season of your life. No posing. No pretending. Just an honest, no-spin relationship with a God who claims you as his own.

Each day includes a Scripture reference and an inspirational original prayer, born from moments of great faith and times of crisis. Like a modern-day book of Psalms, Everyday Prayers is a pathway to growing in grace that you will want to explore year after year.

10. Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings by L. B. E. Cowman and Jim Reimann

In a barren wilderness, L. B. Cowman long ago discovered a fountain that sustained her, and she shared it with the world, Streams in the Desert ® — her collection of prayerful meditations, Christian writings, and God’s written promises–has become one of the most dearly loved, best-selling devotionals of all time since its first publication in 1925. Filled with insight into the richness of God’s provision and the purpose of His plan, this enduring classic has encouraged and inspired generations of Christians. I heard the flow of hidden springs; before me palms rose green and fair; The birds were singing; all the air was filled and stirred with angels’ wings. 

11. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (read free online)

Turn to the pages of My Utmost for His Highest to deepen your love and understanding of God. Oswald Chambers was gifted with extracting the essence of biblical principles and condensing them into potent, thought-provoking, and life-changing devotions. They don’t take a lot of time to read, but they can infuse you with the timeless truths of the Bible. Compiled from lectures given at the Bible Training College in London, to nightly talks in an Egyptian YMCA during World War I, My Utmost for His Highest will lend a powerful spiritual dimension to your walk with God.

12. Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives by Christian Counseling and Education Foundation

Change that goes deeper than the surface of our lives happens over the long haul as we daily remember and connect the truths of the gospel to our lives. Everyday we need to be reminded in different ways that Jesus, God’s own Son, came to this world to save us from sin, sorrow, and death. The promises of God, which are all yes in Jesus, change the way we view ourselves, our circumstances, and other people. This devotional gives a daily reminder of these life-changing truths.

13. Heaven: Your Real Home by Joni Eareckson Tada

An attractive gift book of 100 joyful meditations on the nature of heaven, our hearts’ true home. We all think about heaven–or at least we wonder what will happen to us after we die. For the Christian, these should be comforting, exciting thoughts. In this beautiful devotional gift book, Joni Eareckson Tada has chosen short excerpts from her book, Heaven, and arranged them around common topics such as: Where is heaven and what is it like? What will we do in heaven? Each inspiring and faith-filled meditation is paired with a verse of scripture and a heart-felt prayer.

14. Holiness Day-by-Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey by Jerry Bridges

Do you want your daily devotional to have more substance? Then you will appreciate this one-year devotional from Navigator author Jerry Bridges. Each entry has been carefully selected from his best writings, connecting with you on a deeper level and encouraging personal discovery. This quick daily read is full of inspiration, commitment, and transformation for men and women to grow in spiritual maturity.

15. Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (OT) and Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (NT) by Marty Machowski

Long Story Short will help busy parents share with their children how every story in the Old Testament points forward to God s story of salvation through Jesus Christ. You won t find a more important focus for a family devotional than a daily highlighting of the gospel of grace. Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform children. The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to transforsm the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read. Ten minutes a day, five days a week is enough time to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known. Long Story Short is a family devotional program designed to explain God s plan of salvation through the Old Testament and is suitable for children from preschool through high school.

16. Power in Prayer: Classic Devotions to Inspire and Deepen Your Prayer Life by Andrew Murray

You are invited to fully experience the power of drawing near to Christ through prayer. These inspiring and practical devotions, gathered from Andrew Murray’s most beloved books, will help focus your heart and mind on the vital aspects of an effective prayer life. Topics include:

Praying in Harmony With God / Victory Over Prayerlessness / Living a Devotional Life / The All-Prevailing Prayer–and much more. 

17. Daily Readings From the Life of Christ, Volume 1 by John MacArthur

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” Matthew 4:3-4. It’s time to stop gorging ourselves on bread and start living like Jesus.

In this daily devotional by highly acclaimed author John MacArthur, your hungry heart will be focused on God and His Word. With insights on the life of Jesus, thoughts to ponder, and wisdom gleaned from years of careful study, this devotional will feed your daily walk.

18. Walking with God Day-to-Day: 365 Daily Devotional Selections by Martyn Lloyd Jones

Walking with God Day by Day offers brief daily devotionals that engage the mind and the heart. You will not just find spiritual nourishment in its pages; you will learn about God and the great themes of the Bible. Robert Backhouse has compiled excerpts from choice passages in the writings of Dr. Lloyd-Jones according to monthly themes. By reading this devotional, you will grow in your understanding of God and learn to apply the truth of His Word day by day.

19. The Gospel According to Job: An Honest Look at Pain and Doubt from the Life of One Who Lost Everything by Mike Mason

Anyone who has suffered knows that there is no such thing as “getting a grip on oneself” or “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The only bootstrap in the Christian life is the Cross,” says Mason. “Sometimes laying hold of the cross can be comforting, but other times it is like picking up a snake.” Job knew this firsthand. From him we learn that there are no easy answers to suffering. That the mark of true faith is not happiness, but rather, having one’s deepest passions be engaged by the enormity of God. And through Job we learn the secret of the gospel: that “mercy is the permission to be human.” The Lord never gave Job an explanation for all he had been through. His only answer was Himself. But as Job discovered, that was enough.

The Gospel According to Job sensitively brings the reader to this realization, using a devotional commentary format that reminds them that it’s all right to doubt, to be confused, to wonder–in short, to be completely human. But what will heal us and help us endure is a direct, transforming encounter with the living God.

20. Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn

We need good preaching—preaching that challenges us by God’s Word and brings the comfort that comes from God’s promises. Yet many of us rely solely on others to preach to us and are not benefitting from the kind of preaching that should be most consistent and personal—preaching to ourselves.

Note to Self is a practical introduction to this daily discipline. Pastor Joe Thorn delivers fifty brief, devotional chapters that model preaching the gospel to ourselves and its practical implications. Readers will be challenged by the book’s direct, personal exhortations to apply the law and the gospel to their own lives.

Also worth mentioning:

What would you add?

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10 Characteristics of Jonathan Edwards Preaching Style

Jonathan Edwards Preaching Style and CharacteristicsTheologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards is considered by many to be one of history’s greatest theologians. Edwards, who preached one of America’s all-time great sermons, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, played a big part in the Great Awakening that caused thousands of men and women to come to faith in a major revival that swept across much of America and into Europe.

In the seventh chapter of The Supremacy of God in Preaching, John Piper, who himself points to Edwards as his #1 theological influence outside of Scripture, shares ten characteristics of Edwards’ preaching that, he suggests, apply to all who desire to preach well. Here is a short summary of those ten characteristics (edited for length):

  1. Stir up Holy Affections.

“Good preaching aims to stir up ‘holy affections’—things like hate for sin, delight in God, hope in his promises, gratitude for his mercy, desire for his holiness, tender compassion. The reason for this is that the absence of holy affections in Christians is odious…”

Piper quotes Edwards,

“Outward acts of benevolence and piety that do not flow from the new and God-given affections of the heart, which delight to depend on God and seek his glory, are only legalism and have no value in honoring God.”

  1. Enlighten the Mind.

“…affections that do not rise from the mind’s apprehension of truth are not holy affections. For example, he [Edwards] says, ‘That faith, which is without spiritual light, is not the faith of the children of the light and of the day, but the presumption of the children of darkness. And therefore to press and urge them to believe, without any spiritual light or sight, tends greatly to help forward the delusions of the prince of darkness.’”

“…the good preacher will make it his aim to give his hearers ‘good reason’ and ‘just ground’ for the affections he is trying to stir up.”

  1. Saturate with Scripture.

“I say that good preaching is “saturated with Scripture” and not “based on Scripture” because Scripture is more (not less) than the basis for good preaching. Good preaching does not sit on Scripture like a basis and say other things. It oozes Scripture.

Again and again my advice to beginning preachers is, “Quote the text! Quote the text! Say the actual words of the text again and again. Show the people where your ideas are coming from.”…Edwards expended great energy to write out whole passages in his sermon manuscripts that gave support for what he was saying.”

  1. Employ Analogies and Images

“Experience and Scripture teach that the heart is most powerfully touched not when the mind is entertaining abstract ideas, but when it is filled with vivid images of amazing reality. Edwards was, to be sure, a metaphysician and a philosopher of the highest order…he knew that abstractions kindled few affections. And new affections are the goal of preaching…And he sought to compare abstract theological truth to common events and experiences.”

  1. Use threat and warnings.

“Edwards was fully persuaded that hell was real. ‘This doctrine is indeed awful and dreadful, yet ‘tis of God.’…he esteemed the threats of Jesus as the strident tones of love.

  • ‘Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire’ (Matt. 5:22).
  • ‘It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell’ (Matt. 5:30).
  • ‘Fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matt. 10:28).

Edwards could not remain silent where Jesus was so vocal. Hell awaits every unconverted person. Love must warn them with the threats of the Lord.”

  1. Plead for a Response

Edwards said, “Sinners…should be earnestly invited to come and accept of a Savior, and yield their hearts to him, with all the winning, encouraging arguments for them…that the Gospel affords.” … “Almost every sermon has a long section called ‘Application’ where Edwards screws in the implications of his doctrine and presses for a response. He did not give what is known today as an ‘altar call,’ but he did ‘call’ and expostulate and plead for his people to respond to God.”

  1. Probe the Workings of the Heart

“Powerful preaching is like surgery. Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, it locates, lances, and removes the infection of sin. Sereno Dwight, one of Edwards’s early biographers, said of him, “His knowledge of the human heart, and its operations, has scarcely been equaled by that of any uninspired preacher.””

  1. Yield to the Holy Spirit in Prayer

“…The goal of preaching is utterly dependent on the mercy of God for its fulfillment. Therefore, the preacher must labor to put his preaching under divine influence by prayer. By this means the Holy Spirit assists the preacher. But Edwards didn’t believe the assistance came in the form of words being immediately suggested to the mind. If that’s all the Spirit did, a preacher could be a devil and do his work. No, the Holy Spirit fills the heart with holy affections and the heart fills the mouth.”

  1. Be Broken and Tenderhearted

“Good preaching comes from a spirit of brokenness and tenderness. For all his authority and power Jesus was attractive because he was ‘gentle and lowly in heart,’ which made him a place of rest (Matt 11:29). ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’ (Matt 9:36). There is in the Spirit-filled preacher a tender affection that sweetens every promise and softens with tears every warning and rebuke.”

  1. Be Intense

“Good preaching gives the impression that something very great is at stake. With Edwards’s view of the reality of heaven and hell and the necessity of persevering in a life of holy affections and godliness, eternity was at stake every Sunday…Edwards could no more imagine speaking in a cold or casual or indifferent of flippant manner about the great things of God than he could imagine a father discussing coolly the collapse of a flaming house on his children.”

Related Links:

Links-To-Make-You-Think-and-Grow
Help Crossway Books Distribute 250,000 Study Bibles to Asia and Africa!

Free eBook from Desiring God: The Pilgrim’s Progress (New Edition)

A Word for Self-Professing Christian Leadership Goo Roos by Joey Cochran

When You Are In Between Jobs by Luke Murry (at The Gospel Coalition)

New Trip Lee Song “Coulda” with Lyrics (relating to racial tensions of Ferguson and Trayvon Martin)

Some Thoughts on Ebenezers by Dave Cleland

Free Pastor Screening of the Movie Unbroken

Confessions of an Attention Seeker by Julie Ganschow (at Biblical Counseling Coalition)

Watch videos of Two of R.C. Sproul’s Children’s Books for Free

“Silent Night”: One of the great traditions of my alma mater: Taylor University

And lastly, a good reminder of how we should approach God’s Word:

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