Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

What is the Gospel? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 109 pages. 2020. 
****

In this new book in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series (all of which are free in the Kindle edition), he looks at the important issue of the gospel. We often talk about the gospel, but if asked, would we be able to tell someone just what the gospel is? The gospel isn’t our personal testimony, for example.
Sproul indicates that there is perhaps no more important question for us to answer than what the gospel is, because the answer we give will help to determine our eternal destiny. The gospel tells us how we can be saved from our sin. It is therefore crucial that we search the Scriptures carefully in order to clearly articulate what God tells us about how we may be saved.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEW ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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Tammy’s New Book ~ Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold

My wife just published a book about How to Study the Bible and trace the one big storyline of the bible from beginning to end. It is available on Amazon for $9.99 in a Kindle or Paperback version. She would recommend purchasing the Kindle version, because it includes so many links to great websites and resources. Here’s the Amazon description of the book:

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, but the result is something beautiful that you can use, display or give to others for warmth and comfort. Hopefully this book is an accessible resource – somewhere between Sunday school and a seminary level of education. I hope orderly systematic folks as well as free spirits can use this tool since we desire both form and function as well as beauty. Wouldn’t it be great if along our own Emmaus road we said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32

Our Main Book Divisions will be COMPREHENSION, INTERPRETATION, APPLICATION and then SHARING. We will work from the text to understand what the original author intended the original audience to know, and travel from there through the cross of Christ before we apply the text to ourselves.

So, from your Head (Comprehension) to your Heart (Interpretation) to your Hands (Application and Sharing) let’s start our journey. Let’s learn how to study the Bible together, and pray that our hearts and minds will be transformed by our glimpses at our Almighty God as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. Hopefully this book can be used to help equip all of us to Study, Savor and Share the Scripture.

 


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


One Line Drive: A Life-Threatening Injury and a Faith-Fueled Comeback by Daniel Ponce de Leon with Tom Zenner. FaithWords. 225 pages. 2021
***

This book, written by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon is about how his life changed after being hit in the head by a line drive by the Iowa Cubs’ Victor Caratini on May 9, 2017. In an instant, his life changed forever. He had no idea that almost dying that day would be a gift from God. He writes that as strange as it sounds, the injury he suffered was, in some ways, the best thing that has happened in his life. He now thinks of his injury as a wake-up call. It showed him just how far he had to go to grow in his journey as a Christian.
The book takes us through that horrific incident – he had a large epidural hematoma and skull fracture, the hematoma being what turned it into a life-and-death situation, his recovery, his battle to make it to the major leagues – his path took him through four colleges and five minor league towns – and his transformation and the spiritual growth that took place during that period.
Daniel’s head absorbed the full force of the impact of the batted ball, with excessive bleeding taking place on the inside of his skull near his brain. If it wasn’t for the quick decisions and actions of trainer Scott Ensell, Daniel could have died.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEW ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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14 Upcoming Books You Might Be Interested In


I love to read books in a variety of genres. There are a number of books scheduled to be published in the next few months that you might be interested in. Here are 14 of them, along with the book description from Amazon:

Lessons from the Upper Room: The Heart of the Savior by Sinclair Ferguson. To be published June 24.
From Amazon:
What would you give to spend an evening with Jesus, hearing Him teach and listening to Him pray? This is what we encounter in the Farewell Discourse of John 13–17. As the shadow of the cross loomed, Christ shared His final hours with the disciples to prepare them for His death, quiet their troubled hearts, and intercede on their behalf before the Father.
In Lessons from the Upper Room, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson draws us into these intimate hours from the night when Jesus was betrayed. This vivid picture of Christ’s ministry, from His washing the disciples’ feet to His High Priestly Prayer, shows us the heart of Jesus. Discover His deepest desires for His people and take delight in the suffering Savior who has overcome the world.” Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges. 343 pages. NavPress. 1991
****

I’ve read most of the books written by Jerry Bridges, who went home to be with the Lord in 2016. I first read this book in a class at Covenant Seminary about eight years ago, and I recently read and discussed it again with a friend.
Bridges writes that the Bible teaches we are not only saved by grace, but we also live by grace every day of our lives. He tells us that it is this important aspect of grace that seems to be so little understood or practiced by Christians. A key point is that many of us tend to base our personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. That is, if we have performed well (had our “quiet time”, etc.), then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by grace. Bridges tells us that though we are saved by grace, we are often live by our own performance. The realization that our daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on our own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter by Tim Keller. Viking. 272 pages. 2021
****

Tim Keller tells us that he began this book on the resurrection and then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Writing in such dark times helped him see in the resurrection new depths of comfort and power.
In this book, Keller looks at what Christ as the resurrected one gives to us for life now. He focuses on the resurrection as a key to understanding the whole Bible and to facing all the challenges of life—suffering, personal change, injustice, moral clarity, and the uncertainty of the future. I read with particular interest his five case studies of people who met Jesus after his resurrection and his discussion of unrest and dissatisfaction regarding all social relationships (between economic classes, the races and nationalities, and the sexes). He tells us that in the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christians have the resources for a transformation of social relationships that can be a powerful sign to the watching world.
A key theme throughout the book is what he refers to as “The Great Reversal”, an idea which he writes is at the heart of the gospel. Keller tells us that the cross and resurrection is the Great Reversal. Christ saves us through weakness by giving up power and succumbing to a seeming defeat. But he triumphs—not despite the weakness and loss of power but because of it and through it. His basic thesis of the book is that the resurrection, the Great Reversal, brings us both the power and the pattern for living life now connected to God’s future new creation. The way up is down, that the way to strength is through weakness, and that God has a plan and walks with us in the midst of our suffering, fragility, and helplessness.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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30 More Great Quotes from The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur

Not long ago I read The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith? by John MacArthur. It’s one of the most important books I’ve read, and I highly recommend it to you. See my review of the book here.

In my review, I shared 20 of my favorite quotes from the book. Below, I’d like to share 30 more.

  1. Salvation occurs when a heart is humbled by a sovereign God who reveals His truth. In desperation the soul turns from sin and embraces Christ.
  2. Be on guard against conversions that are all smiles and cheers with no sense of repentance or humility. That is the mark of a superficial heart.
  3. Christians are not supposed to live like unsaved people.
  4. He never held forth the hope of salvation to anyone who refused to submit to His sovereign lordship.
  5. To the unregenerate mind, the thought of yielding everything to Christ is odious. But a believing heart surrenders to the Master with great joy.
  6. No one can rightfully lay claim to Him as Savior while refusing to own Him as Lord.
  7. No one who comes to Christ is either preferred or slighted because of past experience. The same eternal life is offered to all.
  8. Saving faith is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is.
  9. Some people serve Christ their whole lives. Others squander their lives, then turn to the Lord on their deathbeds. Either way, eternal life is the same.
  10. Repentance is not a one-time act. The repentance that takes place at conversion begins a progressive, lifelong process of confession.
  11. If repentance is genuine, we can expect it to produce observable results. There must be a sincere change in one’s lifestyle.
  12. No message that eliminates repentance can properly be called the gospel, for sinners cannot come to Jesus Christ apart from a radical change of heart, mind, and will.
  13. God draws the sinner to Christ and gives the ability to believe. Without that divinely generated faith, one cannot understand and approach the Savior.
  14. True faith is manifest only in obedience.
  15. God graciously saved people by reckoning His righteousness to them because of their faith. No one has ever been saved through the merit system — salvation has been available only by grace through faith ever since our first parents fell.
  16. Justification may be defined as an act of God whereby He imputes to a believing sinner the full and perfect righteousness of Christ, forgiving the sinner of all unrighteousness, declaring him or her perfectly righteous in God’s sight, thus delivering the believer from all condemnation.
  17. Justification is an instantaneous change of one’s standing before God, not a gradual transformation that takes place within the one who is justified.
  18. The cornerstone of justification is the reckoning of righteousness to the believer’s account. This is the truth that sets Christian doctrine apart from every form of false religion. We call it “imputed righteousness.” Apart from it, salvation is utterly impossible.
  19. The salvation He promised brings not only justification, but also sanctification, union with Him, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and an eternity of blessing. It is not merely a one-time legal transaction.
  20. What to do with Jesus Christ is a choice each person must make, but it is not just a momentary decision. It is a once-for-all verdict with ongoing implications and eternal consequences — the ultimate decision.
  21. All this world’s religions are based on human achievement. Biblical Christianity alone recognizes divine accomplishment — the work of Christ on humankind’s behalf — as the sole basis of salvation.
  22. The gate admits only one at a time, for salvation is intensely personal. It is not enough to be born in a Christian family or to ride the coattails of a believing spouse. Believing is an individual act.
  23. The kingdom is not for people who want Jesus without any change in their lives. It is only for those who seek it with all their hearts.
  24. Following Christ can cost your very life — it certainly costs your life in a spiritual sense. The fainthearted and compromisers need not apply.
  25. Many who think they are saved but live unholy lives will be shocked to discover in the final judgment that heaven is not their destiny.
  26. It has become quite popular to teach professing Christians that they can enjoy assurance of salvation no matter what their lives are like. That teaching is nothing but practical antinomianism. It encourages people living in hypocrisy, disobedience, and sin by offering them a false assurance. It discourages self-examination. And that clearly violates Scripture.
  27. If your life does not reveal growth in grace and righteousness and holiness, you need to examine the reality of your faith — even if you believe you have done great things in the name of Christ.
  28. The heart of real discipleship is a commitment to be like Jesus Christ. That means both acting as He did and being willing to accept the same treatment.
  29. When confronted with a decision between serving self and serving the Lord, the true disciple is the one who chooses to serve the Lord, even at great personal expense.
  30. When we come to Jesus for salvation, we come to the One who is Lord over all. Any message that omits this truth cannot be called the gospel. Any message that presents a savior who is less than Lord of all cannot claim to be the gospel according to Jesus.


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25 Quotes from “Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation” by Dan Doriani

Dr. Doriani is a respected seminary professor (who I enjoyed two classes with at Covenant Seminary), pastor and theologian, and this may be the best book I’ve read on the subject of work from a Christian perspective. It is comprehensive, grounded in scripture, and at times, challenging. It also covers some aspects of work that I have not found in others books in the genre.

Here are 25 good quotes from the book:

  1. The union of love and justice brings out the best in workers.
  2. One may have an occupation without a vocation.
  3. A job pays the bills; a calling fits our gifts and interests.
  4. No honest calling is morally superior to any other.
  5. Work is the chief place where we love our neighbors as ourselves.
  6. At work, we have the greatest capacity to care for the hungry, the thirsty, and the sick.
  7. Scripture speaks most often of faithfulness, not fulfillment, in labor.
  8. God gives everyone a role as well as a place of service.
  9. If, by faith, we consecrate our work to God and aim to love both our coworkers and our customers, we serve the Lord and he remembers it.
  10. Everyone tastes disappointment at work, but work remains meaningful if we accept our God-given roles and support others in theirs, even when we are disappointed.
  11. All labor is equal in some ways but unequal in others.
  12. Every morally good task has dignity, whether the laborer sweeps floors or runs a company.
  13. The goal, the ideal, is to serve God with our highest and rarest gifts.
  14. Whether our lot seems humble or exalted, let us work with all our heart, for the Lord knows and rewards all faithful labor.
  15. We should serve God, restrain evil, and advance love, justice, and mercy at work.
  16. The Lord teaches us to work, then pause to sleep, eat, pray, and rest each week.
  17. If the Lord, the Creator, rested, then so should we. But Western culture presents many obstacles
  18. In the Western mind, we work five days to earn the right to rest and play on the weekend. But God tells believers to start the week with rest before we work. In Scripture, rest is a gift, not a reward.
  19. For employer and employee alike, to rest one day in seven is to live by faith.
  20. Reformations of work are ordinarily the spontaneous result of faith.
  21. The command to love our neighbor as ourselves can steer so much of our behavior at work.
  22. Pastors hear that the church should operate more like a business, but the church is the antithesis of a business. Like Jesus, it gives away its services.
  23. It is possible to “work heartily” for the Lord, in all ethical, life-giving occupations.
  24. All honest work is sacred when devoted to the glory of God.
  25. Work is sacred if it follows God’s law, if the motive is love for neighbor.


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“Searching for Grace” Book Review

Searching for Grace: A Weary Leader, a Wise Mentor, and Seven Healing Conversations for a Parched Soul by Scotty Smith and Russ Masterson. Tyndale Momentum. 256 pages. 2021
****

Russ Masterson was a 35-year-old pastor who had just planted a church, and was attempting to keep his life under control. He was asking “How did I get here? and “How does this get better?” He attended a retreat and heard Scotty Smith speak, and Scotty’s words pierced his soul.
As his church grew, Russ’s questions and anxiety continued to grow as well. A year and a half after that retreat, Russ wrote Scotty and asked if he would mentor him, which Scotty agreed to. Russ tells us that Scotty came into his life at the intersection of head knowledge of the gospel and his anxious heart. As they met, Russ would take notes in his journal about what Scotty told him. During their monthly conversations, Russ would ask questions, and as Scotty and Russ talked, it was like time stood still. These were holy moments for Russ.
Russ wanted others to hear what he was hearing from Scotty so that they could live more peaceful lives. Learning how to live in the peace of God, through these seven conversations, is what this book is all about. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? (Revised and Expanded Anniversary Edition) by John MacArthur. Zondervan. 385 pages. 2009 
****

At the beginning of 1978, John MacArthur began preaching through the Gospel of Matthew, verse by verse, a series which eventually lasted seven and a half years, comprising 226 sermons. After completing that series, MacArthur wrote this now modern-day classic to distill his observations about how Jesus proclaimed His own gospel, and to take a hard look at the truths He included in the gospel message. His chief goal was to take an honest and in-depth look at Jesus’ gospel and His evangelistic methods. He knew that the book would be controversial, as he wrote it in part as a response to an already-existing controversy.
He writes that there is no more important issue than the question of what gospel we ought to believe and proclaim. He tells us that he is convinced that our lack of clarity on the most basic matter of all — the gospel — is the greatest detriment to the work of the church in our day, and nothing matters more than what Scripture says about the good news of salvation. He writes that the theme of the gospel according to Jesus is that He came to call sinners to repentance.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading