Dangerous Calling

Paul Tripp on his new book, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry:   You can read the introduction and first chapter here. “This book is ‘good’ in the same way that heart surgery is good. It’s painful and scary and as you read it you’ll be tempted to run away from the truth it contains. But it just might save your life. Pastors need this book. I know I really needed it. It challenged me and rebuked me even as it gave me hope and fresh faith in God for pastoral ministry.” —Joshua Harris, Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland; author, Dug Down Deep “My friend Paul Tripp has done it again. With probing insight and robust realism, he takes an honest look into the challenges that are unique to, or intensified by, pastoral ministry. Gospel-centered and grace saturated to the core, Dangerous Calling is a must read for any pastor or pastor in training who needs to be encouraged

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Pastors: Fight for the Time to Read!

From Justin Taylor: Charles Spurgeon, reflecting on 2 Timothy 4:13 (where Paul said to Timothy: “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments”): We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read. Some of our very ultra-Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot and talks any quantity of nonsense is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains—oh,

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5 Questions To Ask of a Book

Tim Challies: …It will be helpful to assume that the book in question is meant to address the Christian life, falling under the broad categories of Christian Living or Spiritual Growth or something similar (I would have very different questions to ask of a general market book or of a Christian biography). Here are five questions, plus a bonus, that I ask myself as I read. Does It Draw Its Truth from Scripture? First and foremost, a good book will have a heavy dependency upon Scripture. Whatever truth it seeks to teach will be ultimately drawn from God through the Bible rather than from any kind of human wisdom or experience. In the Bible God gives us the great privilege of seeing the world through his eyes and seeing life from his perspective. Therefore, whatever we teach about living the Christian life ought to depend heavily upon his wisdom. This is the key difference between Randy Alcorn’s Heaven and Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven—the first is

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Six Key Theses about Luke’s Theology

From Andy Naselli: The concluding chapter of this new book lays out six key theses about Luke’s theology: Darrell L. Bock. A Theology of Luke and Acts: God’s Promised Program, Realized for All Nations. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. “Although there are many themes,” Bock notes, “six issues within the scholarly conversation are most important” (p. 448–50): 1. Divine Direction, Salvation History, Continuity of Promise, and Mission The predominant idea in Luke-Acts is that Jesus’ coming represents the inauguration and culmination of a program of promise God introduced to Israel through the covenants to Abraham, David, and the offer of a new covenant. This salvation history did not replace eschatology as Conzelmann claimed, but rather was the eschatology of divine promise outlined in the program of Scripture and event that was a part of the Hebrew tradition. Israel’s story was about promise, including the promise to include the nations in blessing. Jesus and the mission of the

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9 World-Tilting Truths

Trevin Wax:   The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight  by Dan Phillip is a basic overview of a biblical worldview. It’s refreshingly God-centered (thus the world-tilting image) and offers a robust yet accessible look at major biblical truths. To top it off, Dan is fun to read. The book is long, but Dan’s writing style is punchy and memorable. Here is a quick summary of the 9 “world-tilting truths” that serve as a launching pad for the worldview put forth in Dan’s book: #1. Over Everything, God The truth of God’s absolute centrality is a wrecking ball to humanity’s constant desire to make ourselves the measure of all things. It dismantles the facade and proclaims the Godhood of God. It reminds us all of what we know deep down inside: We are creatures; we are not gods. We are not ultimate. God is God. #2. Sin Is a Massive, Universal, Nightmare Factor Men naturally minimize sin insofar as

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The Gospel Is For Christians

We never grow beyond the gospel. I am looking forward to reading The Gospel Is For Christians by Mitchell Chase. From the Publisher: Christian discipleship cannot be achieved by following clever formulas or spiritual shortcuts. Believers achieve true growth by holding firmly to and continually appropriating the gospel of God’s grace. While some people consider the gospel to be relevant only for conversion, the Bible teaches that the gospel is indispensable for the Christian life. The gospel must shape our discipleship. • Non-gospel messages do not foster spiritual growth • Faithful churches are gospel-driven churches • Gospel-driven churches obey the Great Commission • The marital covenant points to the New Covenant • Every generation must declare the words and wonders of God “Mitch Chase joins a growing group of leaders on mission to help the church rediscover the truth that the gospel isn’t just the power of God to save us; it’s the power of God to grow us once we’re saved.”

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Six reasons why the deity of Christ matters

Chris Morgan and Robert Peterson, drawing upon Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, propose six reasons – for starters – why the deity of Christ matters so urgently: 1.  The divinity of Christ is the most distinctively Christian doctrine of all. 2.  The essential difference between orthodox, traditional, biblical, apostolic, historic, creedal Christianity and revisionist, modernist, liberal Christianity is right here. 3.  The doctrine works like a skeleton key, unlocking all other doctrinal doors of Christianity. 4.  If Christ is divine, then the incarnation, or “enfleshing” of God, is the most important event in history. 5.  There is an unparalleled existential bite to this doctrine. For if Christ is God, then, since he is omnipotent and present right now, he can transform you and your life right now as nothing and no one else possibly can. 6.  If Christ is divine, he has a right to our entire lives, including our inner life and our thoughts. This new Crossway book is

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John Wesley on how to read a spiritual book

From Fred Sanders: In 1735, John Wesley published an abridgment of Thomas a Kempis’ classic 1441 book The Imitation of Christ. Wesley’s edition was called The Christian’s Pattern. By way of introduction, Wesley gave his readers a short set of directions “concerning the manner of reading this (or any other) religious treatise.” The instructions were not quite of Wesley’s own devising; he translated and modified them from the Latin introduction of a 17th-century edition of the Imitation. So here are tips on devotional reading, inspired by a 15th-century classic, composed by an anonymous 17th-century commentator, and edited by John Wesley in the 18th century; posted on a 21st-century blog. Why? Because this is classic advice on exactly how you do it: Schedule time for spiritual reading, read for a changed heart and ask God to make it happen, read “leisurely, seriously, and with great attention,” get into the attitude of the work you’re reading, finish books, look for action points, and pray for

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Counterfeit Gospels

My thanks to Matthew Lee Anderson for this: Trevin Wax has solidified his role as one of the Christian blogging community’s most insightful writers and one of the leaders of a new crop of young writers who are working to clearly and confidently articulate the shape of the gospel over and against the challenges of contemporary substitutes. Trevin’s new book, Counterfeit Gospels, is a helpful contribution that does precisely that.  Trevin has a great ability as a writer to make complex ideas accessible in an easygoing way.  It is thoughtful, careful engagement with alternatives that is pastorally and spiritually helpful without watering down any of the substance.  Trevin takes on the lack of judgment, moralism, a therapeutic gospel–and, in a section which I particularly appreciated–takes on quietist notions of the gospel that strip away any of the social or political ramifications of it (yes, even those).  But I’ll let him tell you that: Here’s my formal endorsement:  “Trevin Wax has done

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Christ Alone – Michael Wittmer’s Response to “Love Wins”

From Trevin Wax: Mike Wittmer has done evangelicals a great service. He has penned an easy-to-read, thoughtful, and charitable response to Rob Bell’s controversial book, Love Wins. Wittmer is a professor at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and has written books like Don’t Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough and Heaven Is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God. This new book, Christ Alone: An Evangelical Response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins, is a tour-de-force, brilliant in its critique and gracious in its tone. I’ve always admired Mike Wittmer’s willingness to genuinely listen to the questions and concerns coming from people of differing theological persuasions. When the Emerging Church discussion was taking place, Wittmer readily admitted weaknesses and errors within evangelical theology that need to be corrected. But he never veered from his reliance on the authoritativeness of Scripture and the centrality of the gospel. So now, Wittmer enters into the fierce debate over Love Wins in order to express

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A Spike-Torn Hand Twitched

The following excerpt is from: Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ by Russell Moore (Crossway, 2011). The quote is worthy of a slow and careful read (from pages 124-125). My thanks to Tony Reinke for this: Part of the curse Jesus would bear for us on Golgotha was the taunting and testing by God’s enemies. As he drowned in his own blood, the spectators yelled words quite similar to those of Satan in the desert: “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:32). But he didn’t jump down. He didn’t ascend to the skies. He just writhed there. And, after it all, the bloated corpse of Jesus hit the ground as he was pulled off the stake, spattering warm blood and water on the faces of the crowd. That night the religious leaders probably read Deuteronomy 21 to their families, warning them about the curse of

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Tips for Reading Well

Here are a few tips from Justin Childers for growing in your ability to read: Learn to mark up your books – Outline, underline, index, highlight, summarize, and do whatever else it takes to engage a book. Always read with a pen in hand. You are not just passing your eyes over a page. You are engaging with the book. Set reading goals for yourself – He who fails to plan, plans to fail. If you don’t plan to read good books, you won’t. Don’t just buy books, build a library – A library is a place to go for helpful information. Build a library of different types of resources that you can rely on when you need good information. Vary your reading between old and new books – CS Lewis counseled us to read an old book after ever new book. This is wise counsel indeed. Read only the best books – There is simply not enough time to

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Practical counsel for growing theologically

From Joe Thorn’s interview with Ray Ortlund: What advice would you give to the average Christian who loves Jesus and the church, but needs to grow theologically? Here’s one way to jump in. Pull some friends together, everybody buy a copy of Driscoll and Breshears’ Doctrine, and work through it together. Check out the small group suggestions on pages 437-450. Read it slowly. Embrace the difficulty. Look up every word you don’t understand. Mark up your copy with questions and highlights. Get mad if you have to. But pray to God for clarity, and he’ll give it. As you read, keep checking it against the Bible, examine what your friends say too, and don’t let go until you really know what you believe. You will never be the same again. (HT: Justin Taylor)

Preach Christ

From The Crucifixion of Ministry by Andrew Purves: To ministers, let me say this as strongly as I can: preach Christ, preach Christ, preach Christ. Get out of your offices and get into your studies. Quit playing office manager and program director, quit staffing committee’s, and even right now recommit yourselves to what you were ordained to do, namely the ministry of Word and sacraments. Pick up good theology books again: hard books, classical texts, great theologians. Claim the energy and time to study for days and days at a time. Disappear for long hours because you are reading Athanasius on the person of Jesus Christ or Wesley on sanctification or Augustine on the Trinity or Calvin on the Christian life or Andrew Murray on the priesthood of Christ. Then you will have something to say that’s worth hearing. (HT: Tullian Tchividjian)