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.

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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.

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.

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.

True Feelings by Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Whitacre

True Feelings: God's Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our EmotionsTrue Feelings: God’s Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions by Carolyn Mahaney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Often we look at our emotions and view them as bad. Yet emotions themselves are not bad, rather how we use them. Learning to recognize and control our emotions is a battle we all face. In this book, the authors provide some practical steps to better understand our emotions and learn to use them in a God-honoring way rather than in sinful patterns.
Emotions “tell us what we believe and value. We should listen to what they are telling us and evaluate our emotions in light of Scripture. Emotions also move. We should not try to deny their persuading power, but instead allow them to drive us to God.” When our emotions manifest themselves, we should evaluate what that particular emotion is revealing about what we believe and value. For example, anger at being cut off in traffic reveals that we value our safety. Or it may reveal that we want to be in control and have our drive go smoothly. Recognizing our underlying beliefs and values behind our emotions helps us to then respond according to what Scripture teaches rather than turning to a sinful response. If the beliefs or values that an emotion reveals is not Biblical, that emotion is an indication that we need to change our belief or value so that it lines up with Scripture.
This book provides great information for us to evaluate our emotions Biblically and some practical steps for moving forward. If you struggle with your emotions, this is a good read to provide hope and encouragement.

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

12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, if you weren’t already convicted by how much time you spend on your smartphone, you will be after reading this book! The pros and cons of technology are discussed, particularly when it comes to our use of social media. The author asks some hard-hitting questions and talks about reasons we use our smartphones, things such as distraction and to avoid responsibility, for diversion, for affirmation and community.
“The question of this book is simple: What is the best use of my smartphone in the flourishing of my life? To that end, my aim is to avoid both extremes…” The author gives both downsides and upsides to our use of smartphones. It appears the intent of the book is to open our eyes to why we are using them and for what purposes. We need to be intentional in the decisions we make and the author reminds us that we will answer to God for our words and deeds. He does not tell us we shouldn’t use social media or smartphones, but rather to gauge our use and motivations for use and to be wise with our time and resources. “Before you text, tweet, or publish digital art online, honestly ask yourself: Will this ultimately glorify me or God?”
In a world that speeds by us, this book is a good reminder of what matters and to remember what is truly important. Are we living life for God’s purposes or our own?

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

Finding God in My Loneliness by Lydia Brownback

Finding God in My LonelinessFinding God in My Loneliness by Lydia Brownback

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The path out of loneliness begins by letting go of all our attempts to make life work on our own terms. It’s about taking up our cross and following Jesus.”
This book is not a “quick-fix” help to dealing with loneliness. Rather it goes to the heart of the matter, what is behind our loneliness, and the fact that we are not made for this world and loneliness will exist until the new heavens and new earth are ushered in. Having dealt personally with loneliness, the author can relate to this very human emotion that we all deal with at some point in our lives. Different chapters deal with different reasons for why we suffer with loneliness – for being different, in a difficult marriage, during grief, and in singleness. She talks about the wrong ways to deal with loneliness and points us back to Christ as the One we must turn to. This doesn’t mean the loneliness will go away, but He is with us during it. He also has borne our griefs and sorrows (see Isaiah 53). Each chapter ends with discussion questions, so this book could be used in a small group study or book club.
While not an in-depth look at this topic, this book can be an encouragement to those going through loneliness and also help us to realize that we are not alone in dealing with this issue.

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

Parenting by Paul Tripp

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your FamilyParenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Once again Paul Tripp hits it out of the park! This book has similar principles to his brother Tedd Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. It all points back to the heart. In raising and disciplining children, we are to not just focus on behavior change but heart change. Not that we are able to change a child’s heart (only God can do that), but we look beyond the behavior to see the heart of what is causing the behavior.

This book outlines 14 principles to keep in mind in the midst of parenting. I am not a parent myself, but have several close friends that are and they are in the trenches. Parenting is unbelievably hard and incredibly selfless. The first principle in the book points to this: “Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to form a human soul.” Parenting is not meant to be done on our own, in our own wisdom and strength. God calls us to be parents with His help. He will not call us to do something that He doesn’t also help us to accomplish. “God never calls you to a task without giving you what you need to do it. He never sends you without going with you.”

I found this book encouraging, yet not holding back any punches. Since I’m not a parent, I can’t actually put these principles into practice for myself with my own children. But I would like to encourage parents to read this book and use it as a tool. We have been given mercy by God as Christians that we can now pour out on others, especially our own families. I think parents will find this book to be worthwhile and a help as they pour their lives into their kids and teach them about God.

Other quotes:
“There is nothing more important to consistent, faithful, patient, loving, and effective parenting than to understand what God has given you in the grace of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“God calls unable people to do important things because ultimately what he’s working on is not your immediate success, but that you would come to know him, to love him, to rest in his grace, and to live for his glory.”

“What you’re always dealing with is the need for heart change, and we simply have no power at all to change another person’s heart.”

“As a parent you’re not dealing just with bad behavior, but a condition that causes bad behavior.”

“Your children don’t so much need character management as they need worship realignment. They don’t first have a character problem; they have a worship problem that produces a character problem.”

“You are parenting a worshiper, so it’s important to remember that what rules your child’s heart will control his behavior.”

“So your hope as a parent is not found in your power, your wisdom, your character, your experience, or your success, but in this one thing alone: the presence of your Lord.”

“Parenting is about being God’s ambassadors in the lives of our children. It is about faithfully representing his message, his methods, and his character to our children.”

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

Good and Angry Blog Tour

Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and BitternessGood and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness by David A. Powlison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! That’s my initial reaction on reading this powerful book! The author doesn’t hold back any punches when it comes to the issue of anger and often what is behind it, namely our unmet desires and expectations. This is not a self-help book on how to better control your anger. Rather, it is a dive deep into what is behind our anger, helping us to better understand our anger and then use it to turn to God for help and mercy. Each chapter ends with a “Making It Your Own” section of soul-searching questions that get to the heart of the matter.
His definition of anger boils down to “active displeasure toward something that’s important enough to care about.” And he then spends the rest of the book unpacking that. Anger is how “we react when something we think important is not the way it’s supposed to be.” Often anger is the result of our god of self being dethroned. In one of the chapters, he takes us through eight questions to determine what motive or expectation is behind our anger, so that we can deal with that directly. While anger is not necessarily a sin, there is good and bad mixed in with anger, and often the root of it is something sinful. This book addresses that in an impactful and insightful way.
I would highly recommend this book, even if you don’t think that you struggle with anger. We are all affected by anger in various ways and this book is a great read to tackle the problem of sin.

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher as part of Cross Focused Reviews Blog Tour in exchange for my review.

God’s Battle Plan for the Mind by David Saxton

God's Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical MeditationGod’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation by David W. Saxton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meditation for Christians has become a neglected discipline nowadays, often because of the connotation that it has with New Age and Eastern religions. But Biblical meditation is a necessary part of Christian growth and sanctification. In this book, the author goes through what Biblical meditation is NOT to explain how it differs from the world’s idea of meditation. He explains the benefits of meditation and how it is an essential part of a growing Christian’s walk. Using the Puritans and their writings, he gives practical advice for how to meditate and counters excuses that people use for not meditating.

“What does it mean to meditate? It means to think personally, practically, seriously, and earnestly on how the truth of God’s Word should look in life.” Meditation takes the truth of God’s Word and applies it to our lives. “…the believer fills his mind with truth so that his life becomes governed by the attitude of the Savior.”
Today, meditation has all but become non-existent. We live in a busy world filled with so many distractions and taking time to think deeply is not a regular part of most Christians’ lives. Another reason for meditation falling by the wayside is “…a lack of confidence in God’s Word to sufficiently deal with the issues, problems, and temptations that believers face.”

This was an excellent treatise on what Biblical meditation is and is not and the importance it plays for the Christian’s growth. So many gems in this book to take away (I needed to make sure I had a pen handy to underline as I was reading!). This should be required reading for any Christian who desires to grow in their relationship with God. Meditation on God’s Word would also help the growing crisis of Biblical illiteracy that is rampant in America.

Thoughts to consider:
“Whenever any notion or form of spirituality fails to be tied back to the written Word, the end result inevitably tends toward unbiblical mysticism and religious sentimentality. This eventually leads a person to greater darkness rather than light.”

“…Protestants who fail to emphasize biblical meditation because of fear of falling into mysticism are simply overreacting to unbiblical forms of meditation.” I know this is something that I need to work on.

“Because of the depravity of our hearts and tendency to self-deception, the divine testimony of Scripture must always govern our biblical spirituality and meditation.”

“…contemplative prayer is an unbiblical form of meditation that seeks a spiritual experience through some kind of existential encounter with God apart from His written revelation….The contemplative prayer movement seeks to experience God’s voice apart from His written Word. This movement is a product of a larger evangelical departure from an absolute conviction in the sufficiency of Scripture.”

“…biblical meditation does not seek to empty one’s thoughts. Rather, it seeks to fill one’s thoughts with Scripture, fastening them to the objective truths of God’s Word. Rather than seeking to arrive at a plan of self-actualization, biblical meditation seeks to think God’s thoughts after Him. It seeks to grow in appreciation that all of life is lived before a great and mighty God. Biblical meditation realizes that thoughts reveal beliefs.”

“…Christian meditation is the scriptural plan to keep from thoughts that diminish the glory of God.”

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Reformation Heritage Books through Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for my review.