Contentment in the Midst of Chaos

This is my life right now.

Boxes, boxes, everywhere! Due to some family needs, we are moving from our home in Michigan to live near family in Pennsylvania. We are in the process of selling our condo, which is stressful, as anyone who has ever bought or sold a home can attest to. At the same time we are also packing up in preparation for movers to come at the end of December and put most of our stuff in storage. We will live with family temporarily while looking for a new place in Pennsylvania. So there are decisions as to what to put in storage, what do we think we’ll need in the meantime, not knowing how long it will take to find and buy a new home.

It’s easy (and probably natural) at times like these to look ahead and think, “Oh, I can’t wait until we have our new place and can be moved in and settled again, with life back to somewhat normal.” Until then life is chaotic and uncertain, living half out of boxes and suitcases. It’s hard to feel relaxed and content in the midst of all that is going on. But we are not meant to live our lives in the “Oh, when such and such happens, then I can relax and all will be well.” We aren’t meant to live in the future “someday”. We are called to live in the here and now, the everyday chaos, the half packed boxes around us. What better picture of this life being temporary? This is not our final destination. A new heaven and earth await us, where there will be no more chaos, no more stress, no more sin. Even when things settle down and there is a new normal, this is still not our final home. We are to hold this life loosely, ever realizing that this is temporary. We are sojourning between worlds, as this blog is called. So as I live in the midst of chaos, God can use this to remind me not to be looking for a future settled home here on this earth, but a future home in the new heaven and earth that awaits me when Christ returns. Until then I must live each day to glorify God and proclaim Jesus Christ.

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Suffering by Paul Tripp

Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn't Make SenseSuffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Paul David Tripp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Raw and real, with hope. The author takes us through his own personal journey of suffering to show how God uses this in our lives. Suffering has a purpose. He also shows us Who God is and how the different attributes of God can comfort us during our journey of suffering. Suffering often exposes our hearts and God uses this to grow us in Christ-likeness.
As usual, Paul Tripp knocks this out of the park. His writing cuts to the heart of the matter. Convicting book yet also comforting in providing hope for those who are enduring suffering.
“…you can be stripped of everything in life on which you’ve depended and not have lost everything, because it is impossible for any of God’s children, no matter what is going on, to lose him.”
“God is never caught up short. He never has a second of confusion… He is never confused as to what to do. He has no quandaries, and he never lives with unsolved mysteries. He rules all things, he knows all things, and there is nothing that he doesn’t understand.”
Suffering has the power to lay waste to our idols. Suffering has a way of exposing what’s really dear to us, what we feel we can’t live without, and what truly rules our hearts. It’s not just that what we’re going through is painful, but also that we’ve lost what was giving us value and worth. Suffering exposes the inadequacy of hooking our hope to the temporary treasures of the created world and positions our heart to hook our hope to the Creator in ways we’ve never done before.”

*I received a copy of this e-book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

All That’s Good by Hannah Anderson

All That's Good: Recovering the Lost Art of DiscernmentAll That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment by Hannah Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 3rd book that I’ve read by Hannah Anderson and it is the best by far! You know it’s a good book when you keep underlining! The subtitle is “Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment”. The structure of the book uses Philippians 4:8 to go through the various traits of how we determine what is good. Looking at what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable, the author guides us through each of these characteristics in learning how to determine what is good. The final chapter deals with the importance of using discernment in community. We alone don’t have all the answers or the ability to determine what is good on our own. That is why God designed us to be in community, where we can work together in discerning what is good and better.
In the introduction, she highlights the central question of the book: “How can we, imperfect as we are, develop an instinct for recognizing and embracing the good?” She then unpacks this by using the characteristics from Philippians 4:8 to help us in determining the good.
I underlined a lot! There is a lot to digest from this book and it will be going on my re-read pile. The back of the book also has questions to review and discuss the book, preferably with a group. It is ideal for using in a book club/group setting. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this book and finding some friends to go through it together.

*I received a copy of this book free from Moody Publishers in exchange for my review.

Ezekiel’s Amazing Message

After going through Nancy Guthrie’s series on Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament and getting just a taste of some of the Old Testament books, I wanted to dig deeper into Ezekiel. It’s a fascinating book, though a bit intimidating. It starts off with the majestic glory of God being revealed to Ezekiel. Then it goes through the judgments on Israel for her rebellion against God.

Chapter 16 was an amazing discovery! Israel was cast out at birth, wallowing in her own blood. God passed by her and said to her, “Live”. He made her to flourish. Later He passed by her again and saw that she was at the age for love, so He spread His garment over her and made a covenant with her. He then proceeded to lavish her with beautiful jewelry and clothing, giving her food. The picture of His generosity is expanded over several verses of all that He has given to her.

But she did not remember and turned to others who passed by her. Rather than staying with the God who had passed by her and given her everything, she turned instead to other passersby and went after them. She took the gifts that God had given her and turned them into idols to worship. After recounting all her abominations, God remembers His covenant. Israel did not remember, but God remembered. While this passage is recounting Israel, there is so much of ourselves that we can see in it. How we have forsaken God and not remembered His lavish gifts to us. Taking the gifts He gives us and turning them into idols to worship instead of Him. But God….

 “For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant,  yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant.  Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you.  I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord,  that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 16:59-63 ESV)

Redeeming Money by Paul David Tripp

Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our HeartsRedeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts by Paul David Tripp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once again, Paul Tripp has written a convicting and compelling book. In dealing with the topic of money, we often look to budgets and financial management to help us properly deal with our money. But in this book, Dr. Tripp challenges that with the point that when it comes to money, we must first deal with our hearts. We all have a worldview, and this affects how we approach money. Our hearts were made to worship and if they do not worship the Creator, they will worship the creation. How we spend our money is a reflection of our hearts and what we worship.
“If the eyes of your heart are focused on how God has provided for you way beyond anything you deserve, so that you are filled with humble gratitude and wonder, then your thoughts won’t be captured by all the things you don’t have. If you are persuaded that no one knows better what you need than the Lord and that he has been faithful in meeting those needs, then you don’t look toward the world with a needy and craving heart.”
This book contains a lot of convicting truths about the state of our hearts and what is behind our need to accumulate wealth and material possessions. “It is the direction set by the little, everyday choices that determines how we respond and what we do in the grand, significant moments of our lives.”
I definitely recommend reading this book. It’s not long and packs some powerful truths behind our use of money. “Everyone’s heart is mastered by something, and what masters your heart will shape your thoughts, desires, choices, words, actions, and emotions.” Truth to remember in every area of our lives.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

Overcoming Addiction by Elizabeth Shartle

Overcoming Addiction: A Biblical Path Towards FreedomOvercoming Addiction: A Biblical Path Towards Freedom by Elizabeth A. Shartle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I hate to give bad reviews but sometimes a book just isn’t that good. While there were some good things in this book that might be helpful for those struggling with addictions, I found it difficult to read and follow. The writing style didn’t seem to flow but was more disconnected. It seemed choppy.
It may have just been my personal taste, so others may find some practical help from this book. But I had a hard time getting through it and it is not one that I would recommend.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Aneko Press in exchange for my review.

Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life

Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and FireLloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and Fire by Jason C. Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic book on the life and teachings of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I’m now looking forward to reading some of his books, which are actually originally from his sermons. This book is set up in a very straight-forward manner with a logical flow. Lloyd-Jones is known for the phrase “logic on fire” and this book does an excellent job of flowing logically. Doctrine was crucial for Lloyd-Jones and the book gives us an overview of his various doctrinal teachings, including God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, faith and love (living out the Christian life), and church. From this book I got the impression that Lloyd-Jones was methodical and precise. He put forth the problem and the prescription for that problem. One of the chapters goes through to summarize his book on spiritual depression.
I would highly recommend this book, not just to better understand “the Doctor”, but as encouragement in spiritual growth. Very practical teachings are woven through the book.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

Spurgeon on the Christian Life

Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ (Theologians on the Christian Life)Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ by Michael Reeves

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spurgeon is well known today as a great preacher. This book takes a closer look at his teachings and what his passion was. And his passion was for proclaiming Christ. With tidbits about his life, the main thrust of this book was showing Spurgeon’s desire to make Christ known. It also touched on Spurgeon’s struggle with depression and how this made him more compassionate to others who were suffering.
Laced throughout the book are quotes of Spurgeon to highlight what he believed and taught. He set forth the cross of Christ – “And it is especially the love of God shown in the cross that turns and transforms the hearts of sinners. In the horrifying torture and crucifixion of Jesus we see the highest proof of the highest love. His bleeding makes our hearts bleed, and his shame makes us ashamed. In the cross we see a divine disgust at sin that makes sin appalling in our eyes too. But further, through the cross we see a love so livid that it pierces our apathy and overwhelms our desire for other things.”
“At the cross our pride and sinfulness are mortified, our self-deifying efforts are damned, our wandering hearts exposed, and the beauty of Christ in his humility and holiness are held before us. There is best displayed the love of Christ, which is ‘the transfiguring power in the hand of the Holy Spirit.’ There the glory of God shines brightest in all its transforming power.”
“Sanctification is an essentially Christ-centered matter of turning away from other things to him who conforms us into his own glory.”
For those who are familiar with Spurgeon and his preaching and writings, this gem of a book provides a summary of what he taught. For those unfamiliar with Spurgeon, this book will give a glimpse into who he was, what he believed, and what his ministry focused on. I recommend it!

*I received a copy of this Kindle book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.

Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey

Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and SexualityLove Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality by Nancy R. Pearcey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We live in a changing world. And the worldview with which we live in this world affects all that we do. In this excellent book by Nancy Pearcey, she describes how the postmodern worldview is dualistic and thus has made the body insignificant and unworthy. As a result, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, homosexuality, transgenderism, and the break-up of the family are being applauded and sought. First, she describes the upper and lower story view of the body which has created the mind and values has being valuable (the upper story) and the body and matter as not having any value (lower story). Because of this low view of the body, anything goes. Biological facts no longer matter in what gender someone is. Personhood becomes a subjective matter and what determines value, not being a human. In contrast, the biblical worldview looks at the body as being important and integral with the mind. The totality of the person – body and mind – matters. Through the various chapters of this book, she tackles the secular worldview that is leading to the changes around us and contrasts it with the biblical worldview.
In order to better understand why people think abortion or euthanasia is okay, or what lies behind the push for removing gender from biology, this book shows how the postmodern worldview has led to this way of thinking. The challenge for those of us who hold to the biblical worldview is to compassionately show how this other worldview denigrates the body rather than freeing it.
Highly recommended, though a bit philosophical in parts, this book is needed for navigating our current cultural climate.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher Baker Books through Netgalley.com free in exchange for my review.

Lies Young Women Believe (Updated Edition)

Lies Young Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them FreeLies Young Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just as the book Lies Women Believe is being revised and updated, so also this one geared toward teen girls is being revised and updated. Overall, this was a good read and packs a good punch, not holding back on some of the ways our culture lies to us about what is true and meaningful. In this day and age it is especially hard for young people to battle against the lies of beauty, friendship, and sex. This book tells it straight – what the lies are that young women are believing, and what the Bible tells us about these lies and how we can counter them with the truth of Scripture.
A minor thing, I found that the verse Ephesians 5:21 was used to talk about submitting to God-given authority, however, that is not what the verse is talking about in context: “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Though it is true that we are to submit to God-given authority, that verse is not the one that should be used to teach that truth.
I would recommend this as a good read for moms and daughters to do together, or a youth group book club read. The book emphasizes the need for young women to be in God’s Word and know His truth, so they can combat the lies they encounter every day in this world.

*I received a copy of this book on Kindle through Netgalley from the publisher Moody in exchange for my review.