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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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In the Lord I Take Refuge: 150 Daily Devotions Through the Psalms by Dane Ortlund. Crossway. 417 pages. 2021

Dane Ortlund, author of Gentle and Lowly, writes that the purpose of this book is to foster communion with God amid all the ups and downs of daily life in this fallen world. The devotional content is meant to facilitate fellowship with God in the words of the Psalms.
In the Lord I Take Refuge includes the text of the book of Psalms, with a short devotional reading after each Psalm. The book works well by reading one Psalm and devotion each day. If you are looking for a good book to add to your daily devotional time, I would recommend this devotional on the book of Psalms.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the devotional readings:

  • Will the trials still to come in our lives prove us to be deep-rooted trees, incapable of being blown over, or will they show us to be chaff, blown away by the slightest breeze?
  • Jesus allowed himself to be truly overwhelmed by his enemies. The result is that believers can be confident that every overwhelming experience they face is from a loving Father to help them.
  • When we are brought into the dark valleys of life as we journey through this fallen world, we have, and we need, one thing: God. And we can know that we have the Lord with us, moment by moment, because he sent his own Son to walk through this world’s sorrows.
  • Sin is universal. No one is exempt. But grace is universally available. No one need be exempt. All that is required is a trusting faith in Jesus Christ, the living embodiment of the salvation that came out of Israel.

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BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper

  • We can trust God, no matter how dire the circumstance. For in the gospel the direst of circumstances—our deserved condemnation and an eternity in hell—have already been emptied of their threat and power.
  • God alone is able to bear the weight of our deepest trust. And God alone will never let us down when we place the full weight of our trust on him. In Christ he proved it.
  • When life overwhelms us, when the bottom is falling out, this is where Scripture takes us: to God. We do not achieve internal calm by securing external calm. We find internal calm by looking to God.
  • The way forward is to consider what God has done for you in the past and what you know he will do in the future.
  • We can never benefit God—he can only benefit us. God does not want empty ritual—he wants our hearts. God does not ask us to give him gifts—he asks us to give him ourselves.
  • He is the God of abundant mercy. He proved it in Jesus. This is who he is. In Christ, you are rinsed clean—invincibly, permanently, irreversibly.
  • What does it really mean to trust God? To trust God means to live your life as if God actually exists and is who he says he is. It is to conduct your existence in such a way that what you say that you believe about God aligns with how you use words, money, your body, and other people. It is to leave your final welfare in God’s hands rather than your own. To do otherwise is to welcome your own destruction
  • if you are in Christ, consider that amid all your present troubles, God has delivered you from the only enemy who could really harm you, the one enemy who could harm your soul, eternally, in hell. He has delivered you from Satan and the sting of death. You are free.
  • Open up to him, fellowship with him, pour out your heart to him. He will not let you down.
  • Jesus Christ is the living proof, in flesh and blood, that God cares deeply about our problems and pain and tears.
  • God will right all wrongs. The final judgment of God is a deeply liberating doctrine. All will be put to right. We can release the need to judge now. We can leave it in his wise hands.
  • How do you handle distress—emotional, psychological, physical, financial? What is your heart-impulse when you feel swamped by adversity? Cry out to the Lord. He will lead you to a place of safety.
  • Perhaps it will not be the safety you expect; perhaps it will not be immediate deliverance from your present trials. But at bottom he will assure you of your final and ultimate safety—in the arms of Jesus Christ, the true rock that is higher than what you yourself could attain.
  • We thank God for the mountaintop experiences with him. But it is in the valley where we find him nearest and dearest to us.
  • To the degree that you feel yourself sufficient and competent, to that degree you will not cry out to God. To the degree that you feel yourself weak and inadequate, to that degree you will call out for his help and deliverance—a prayer his heart delights to answer.
  • Adversity is not intended to diminish our hope in God. Adversity is intended to heighten our hope in him. We are brought to remember that God is all we have, and that he is enough.
  • In heaven, God is all you want and need. On earth, God is all you want and need. In death or in life, in sickness or in health, even as your body wastes away toward the grave, God is all you want and need.
  • When you look at the cross, you see your punishment being carried out, so that before you is only peace with God and an eternity with him.
  • Take heart in the greatest truth of God’s judgment: God judged his own righteous Son in place of us unrighteous rebels, so that any who turns to take refuge in him gets the future that Jesus deserves.
  • The ultimate reason to live confidently in a hostile world is that Jesus Christ has prevailed over our greatest enemies: sin, guilt, Satan, and death.
  • Your pain never outpaces his love. Your difficulty is surrounded by the deeper reality of his goodness. He proved it by sending his own Son for you. Even in the pain of life, we lift our hearts and our voices to the Lord.
  • The more one grows in Christ and journeys through this world in communion with him, the deeper one’s desire to be an integrated human being will be—to bring into alignment our passions, words, thoughts, finances, and so on.
  • He takes the high and makes them low; he takes the low and makes them high. He manifests his strength through weakness. Supremely, he manifests his saving glory through a cursed cross.
  • The gospel is the final great reversal: the sinless one suffered condemnation so that the sinful ones might not.
  • Christ is your king, representing God to you, but he is also your priest, representing you to God. He is worthy of all our trust.
  • The Bible is not mainly a book of advice, telling us what to do. It is mainly a book of redemption, telling us what God has done.
  • Only in Christ are we truly secure. Trust in him. Hope in him. Bank on him. Only he will never let you down.
  • He may not remove the adversity, but he will keep and comfort the one who looks to him with a solace that transcends whatever is happening circumstantially all around him.
  • Whatever assault you feel yourself to be under today as you walk with Christ, the answer is not to respond to insults with insults, nor to hope ultimately in political or economic leadership, but to rely on the Lord. To trust him. Yield to him. Think about him. Draw strength from him.
  • Life in Christ is a celebration—not shallow merriment but a deep, pain-acknowledging celebration. For the best is yet to come.
  • Who rules over your life? Who will determine the final state of the world? Who gets the last say? Jesus Christ—not your boss, not your parents, not your political leadership. Trust him, and be at peace.
  • Jesus Christ came for us and died for us; he secured the permanence and demonstrated the depths of God’s heart of love for sinners.
  • The ministry of Jesus on behalf of sinners and sufferers means you are safe. In Christ, you cannot lose. Even your pain will ultimately be transformed into your own glory and triumph (Rom. 8:18–21).
  • To whom does God draw near? The brokenhearted. To whom is the Lord most strongly, irresistibly pulled? The outcasts. The losers. Those rejected by the world. Those of apparent insignificance by the world’s standards.

  • Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy recently published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you’ve read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.”
  • God’s Purpose for the Psalms. In this short video, Dane Ortlund states “God did not give us the psalms—his way for us to pray to him—by giving us a list. In the psalms, he didn’t give us a story. What he gave us are songs. He gave us poetry, which itself reflects the beauty of God himself and how he wants to enchant, allure, woo, and draw us up into him.”

BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Providence by John Piper

The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

This week we look at Chapter 19: The Ongoing Existence of Satan. Here are a few takeaways from the chapter:

  • I would sum up why God permits Satan to go on living and working by saying that God intends to defeat Satan not with one initial blow of power, but through four processes: He is defeating Satan with showing. He is defeating Satan with suffering. He is defeating Satan with Satan. He is defeating Satan with savoring.
  • When Jesus throws Satan into the lake of fire, Jesus’s justice and power will be on full display. But at the cross, his grace and mercy and patience and love and wisdom were on full display as he conquered Satan’s claim on God’s people by paying their debts.
  • God intends for Satan to be defeated in this age not merely by showing him to be weaker than Christ, but also by showing him to be less savory than Christ—less desirable, less satisfying.
  • Providence over Satan and all other created reality reaches its ultimate goal when the intensity of human savoring corresponds to the infinite beauty and worth of Christ.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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