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)

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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.

Lies Women Believe (Updated Edition)

Several years ago, my mom, sister and I went through the book Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and the corresponding workbook Walking in the Truth. Later I summarized the book and my thoughts in a series of blog posts that can be seen here. I was interested in reading the updated version and was glad to obtain a copy on Kindle for review through Netgalley. The updated edition will be coming out in January 2018 and includes a new chapter on lies women believe about sexuality.

The book starts off with a reminder of how we get caught up in lies and that we must recognize these lies and replace them with the truth from God’s Word. Each chapter deals with specific lies that we often believe (even if we wouldn’t actually say it) and how God’s Word contradicts those lies. At the end of the chapter the lies are summarized along with the truth and Scripture references to combat the lies. What we believe affects how we live, and if we are believing lies about ourselves, God, marriage, etc. we will not be living in freedom.

While not every woman struggles with every lie in this book, we all struggle with some of them. This is a great resource to point us back to God’s Word to be the source of what we believe. This would be a helpful book to go through with other women, to gently correct and encourage each other to be grounded in the truth of God’s Word and not give in to the lies that subtly sneak their way into our lives in this world of sin that we live in.

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

 

Being a Disciple of Christ

One of the current trends in Christianity is this teaching of “easy-believism”, the idea that saying a prayer to ask Jesus into your heart saves you and secures a place for you in Heaven. From my blog post of June 19, 2011:

There are many people out there who think they are Christians, think they are going to heaven when they die because they said a prayer when they were a child or they responded to an altar call at church. But in reality they have really never turned their hearts to Christ. The Bible never teaches that to be saved we have to “ask Jesus into our heart”.

Luke 9:23 states, Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Luke 6:46 says – “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say?”

The famous passage in Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved, through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (emphasis mine) We do not save ourselves – it is God who saves us.

The fruit of the Spirit is outlined in Galatians 5. Yet I see many professing Christians that don’t display these characteristics in their lives. Their lives are no different than others around them who aren’t believers. I challenge myself with these words. Is my life any different from the world around me? Can people look at me and see Jesus in my life?

My heart is burdened by what I see around me as “easy-believism”. But what I see in the Bible is a life called to sacrifice, to die to our own desires and to live for Christ. This article sums up what I’m trying to say much better than I can explain it: http://www.gotquestions.org/easy-believism.html

To grow as a disciple of Christ, first we need to make sure that we are one.

The gospel summarized:
“First, God’s holiness and justice require that rebellion against his perfect law be dealt with retributively, namely, in the suffering of both spiritual and physical death. Second, we humans can do nothing about this. We are helpless to atone for self and are thus wholly at a loss to escape the wrath of God that our sin has incurred. Third, Jesus Christ, the incarnate God-man, has taken our place under judgment and received in himself the penalty that was our sentence, thereby laying the foundation for our pardon and immunity from divine prosecution. Fourth, each human must look in faith outside and away from self to Christ and his cross as the sole ground of forgiveness and future hope.” (Sam Storms, as written in Packer on the Christian Life)
Repent (turn away) from your sins and place your faith in Christ alone for salvation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Idols

There are so many idols to distract us from God and His truth. This world has many temptations to entice us away. Our hearts are the real culprit however. Much of what we desire and long for can be classified as good desires and longings, yet how we seek to fill those desires and longings often leads us to idolatry.

But wait a minute! Idolatry? Most of us, particularly in the Western hemisphere, would say that we don’t practice idolatry. We don’t bow down to wooden or gold statues. We don’t offer sacrifices anymore. But idols aren’t necessarily something physical. Idols are anything that we look to for satisfaction. Idolatry is worshipping something or someone other than the true God. In this way, we can see multiple ways that we turn to idols to fill our desires rather than to God Himself.

The desire for close friendship is a valid desire. The desire to grow in knowledge and understanding is a valid desire. But if I sin in order to fill those desires, they have become idolatrous. When I scroll through my Facebook feed and get jealous seeing my friends hanging out with other people rather than me, I have turned that friendship into an idol. When my longing to learn and study leads to buying books that I cannot afford, I have turned my desire for knowledge into an idol.

So how do we turn from idolatry to worshipping God? It all goes back to the heart. What am I looking to for satisfaction? Heart change takes time and involves a continual renewal of truth to remind ourselves that true satisfaction is found only in God, not in other people, knowledge, money, or power. They may temporarily satisfy, but will never really fill the longings we have within us. When I find myself longing for something, I need to examine why I am desiring that particular thing? Am I looking for it to fulfill me? Or is it something that God is using to bring Him more glory? Will this friendship help me to honor God with my actions and attitude? Or will it cause me to sin against Him? As long as we live in this sin-cursed world, we will struggle against idolatry. But that doesn’t mean we are defeated. Rather, God continues to renew His children and sanctify us with His truth. We go back to His Word to remind ourselves of His majesty and love. He is our only true Savior.