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Midweek Roundup – 7/23/14

Each Wednesday we share some recent links that we found informative, insightful, or helpful. These are often related to Crossway books, Bibles, or authors—but not always. We hope this list is an interesting and encouraging break for the middle of your week.


1. The Gospel Coalition reviews Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

[I]s Wilkin overstating a crisis of biblical illiteracy? If the current statistics found in the American Bible Society’s “State of the Bible Report” are any indication, then the answer is a resounding no. Only 37 percent of adults reported reading their Bible at least once a week apart from Sunday services. Among other things, this dismal stat reveals that we’ve developed several unhelpful habits that keep us from biblical nourishment. Wilkin has identified and creatively labeled some of these as the “Xanex,” “Pinball,” and “Personal Shopper” approaches. While humorous, each habit seems far too familiar to my own journey with biblical study.

2. White Horse Inn interviews Justin Holcomb about how Christians should respond to sexual abuse

How should Christians respond to the growing number of sexual abuse cases? How does this issue affect the mental and spiritual lives of both victims and perpetrators of this form of assault? More importantly, how should we apply the gospel of grace in these situations? Mike Horton will be discussing these questions with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, authors of Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault.

3. Jen Wilkin on helping your kids say ‘No’ to porn

The first time porn was served at the cafeteria lunch table, my son was 11 years old. Does that seem young to you? Research suggests that one in three children ages 11 to 14 have viewed pornography on a mobile device. Add to that the very real possibility that a child will stumble across explicit content on YouTube or in a pop-up ad during innocent computer usage, and one thing becomes clear: parents must be proactive in talking about porn with their kids.

4. Jonathan Leeman on when you should not submit to a church

All of us will, at times, be called to endure humbly a leader’s mistakes and sins. Nonetheless, should you find yourself in a church where the leadership is characteristically abusive, I would, in most cases, encourage you to flee. Flee to protect your discipleship, to protect your family, to set a good example for the members left behind, to serve non-Christian neighbors by not lending credibility to the church’s ministry.

5. James Anderson explains the difference between soft and hard determinism

Recall that compatibilism refers to the thesis that determinism is compatible with freedom (i.e., that people can make free choices, for which they can be held morally responsible, even if determinism is true). As I noted in my earlier post, there are different types of determinism and thus there can be various compatibilist theses. . . .

Given this basic understanding of compatibilism, we can define ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ determinism as follows: soft determinism is compatibilist determinism and hard determinism is incompatibilist determinism. In other words, soft and hard determinists agree that determinism is true, but they disagree about whether free choices are possible given that determinism is true. The ‘softies’ say they are; the ‘hardies’ say they aren’t.

July 23, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Midweek Roundup,News & Announcements | Author: Matt Tully @ 9:30 am | 0 Comments »

Deleting Bible Study from Your Mental Checklist

WOWM - Tips and Encouragement

This is a guest post by Lydia Brownback and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.


The Checklist

The mental morning checklist—we’ve all got one.

Beds made? Check.
Lunches packed? Check.
Phone charged? Check.

For many of us, that mental rundown includes a daily Bible reading, and checking it off is simply part of a well-organized morning. Yet, while all Bible reading is profitable, there’s something a bit off about placing it on a to-do list—kind of like including “Kiss husband good-bye” or “Drink coffee.”

We don’t need reminders for our cravings—love, affection, caffeine. So where are we with this? Do we crave our time in the Word?

Checking Our Motives

We’re not likely to jump eagerly out of bed to get to it if we see it as yet one more goal (“This time, I’m determined to get through that ‘Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year’ plan.”) or as a way to appear spiritual (“Obadiah? Hmm. I’d better dig in and find out before it comes up in conversation.”) or as a means of guaranteeing God’s blessing on the day (“I can’t miss my quiet time. I’ve got a dicey meeting at 2pm that will definitely require divine intervention.”).

But God actually isn’t concerned that you read through the Bible in year. And appearing spiritual is really just pride. And all our blessings come to us through Christ’s righteousness, not what we do. So with those motivations out of the way, what’s the incentive?

It’s this: enjoying a foretaste of heaven.

We get that foretaste when we understand that God’s Word is literally that—his word! He speaks to us through it. In fact, it’s the only way he speaks to us. When we go to Scripture with a listening heart, the Holy Spirit illuminates its truths to our understanding and enables us to know God more fully. On top of that, he will often apply specific passages to something we’re dealing with or bring to light something he wants us to change.

A Two-Way Conversation

So we listen. But it’s a two-way conversation. God delights in our “discussing” Scripture with him. We can tell him what we see there, and we can tell him what we don’t get and ask for deeper understanding. And when we experience one of those ah-ha moments, we can share with him the joy of our discovery.

We can also pray the actual words of Scripture. Consider the Psalms—how many prayers we find there! There are heartfelt cries of sorrow, confusion, fear, joy, exaltation, gratitude, and need. And we’re invited to turn these heartfelt cries into our own personal prayers.

Think also of the prayers of Paul in the New Testament, such as those in Ephesians 1:16–21 and 3:14–19. Have you turned those words into personal petition? Can you? Will you? One thing’s for sure about those prayers: we know the things mentioned in them are God’s will for us because those prayers are part of God’s inspired Word.

The Way to Spiritual Intimacy

We have a relational God, and meeting with him prayerfully in his Word is the way to spiritual intimacy. The more we practice it, the better we’ll know our Lord, and the better we know him, the more of him we’ll want.

Soon we’ll notice that Bible reading is no longer dependent on the morning checklist. We don’t need reminders for what we value most.


Lydia Brownback (MAR, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the author of several books and a speaker at women’s conferences internationally. She has served as director of editorial for Crossway’s Book Division; writer-in-residence for Reverend Alistair Begg; and broadcast media manager for Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, where she produced The Bible Study Hour radio program with James Montgomery Boice. Some of Lydia’s books include the On-the-Go Devotional series, A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything, and Proverbs: A 12-Week Study.

 


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Help Wanted: Looking for Someone to Make My Kids Love the Bible

WOWM - Tips and Encouragement

This is a guest post by Jessica Thompson and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.


Help Wanted

Help Wanted: Looking for someone to make my children understand and love the Bible. My husband and I have tried everything, from bribery to anger to manipulation and they don’t seemed interested at all. If you can take on three kids, ages 5-10 and instill in them a love for God’s Word. I will pay you $100 per week.

I would never actually put an ad like this on Craigslist, but I have been tempted. It is unbelievably frustrating and hopeless to spend time reading a devotional or the Bible to your children to find out at the end of it that two of the kids were playing rock, scissors, paper under the table and the other one had fallen asleep (that explains why they were so quiet and “attentive”).

As Christian parents, we hope that our children will say with David and with us, “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches . . . my soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times” (Ps. 119:14, 20).

Examining Our Own Hearts

Now stop, read those verses again and ask yourself this question: Do I even do that? I know I personally don’t. There are mornings, weeks, and months when my heart is hard and indifferent to the Bible. There are mornings, weeks, and months when I am distracted and would rather do anything but sit and meditate on the Word of God.

So my question to you is, “Why do we expect our children to be any different than we are?” And yet, we do . . . and then we get angry and depressed when they don’t seem to care. Only a true believer’s heart would want to read or understand the Bible, and, at times, we expect our children—who may not be believer—to act as though they are. Let’s get real honest here: we might even force our children into a charade of sorts, showering them with praise the more they act like they are enjoying their devotional time.

Please hear me: it is good and right to read the Bible with your children; it is good and right to share your love for God’s Word. However, we can’t force our kids into the kingdom of God.

Help from Above

There is One who can fill that “help wanted” ad above. It’s actually his job, not ours.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to make your children love Jesus and love the Bible. And it’s his job to do that in your life, too. You can trust Him to do His work.

Practical Tips

But what can we do to make it easier for our kids to love God’s Word, instead of merely forcing it on them?

First and most importantly, pray . . . and not just during devotions. And don’t pray the “guilt prayer” while seated around the table: “God, help these children stop messing around. Help them to sit still because you love kids who listen.” Rather, pray like Paul prayed. Ask God to help your kids come to know his unfathomable love for them and that they would consequently come to love His Word.

Second, don’t make the Bible out to be a book of morality. That isn’t the message of Christianity. The Bible is the story of God’s unrelenting, redeeming love for sinners. Do your children know that? Do you know that? Or have we reduced God’s Word to a bunch rules and regulations?

I know I don’t want to read a list rules. But give me an action-packed story about a good King fighting for his people and I’m hooked.

Last, remember their salvation isn’t up to you. This realization will free you to enjoy them and your devotional time with them, even if they don’t. Their response to the Word doesn’t define you as a parent.

Simply put, trust God when it comes to helping your kids understand and love the Bible. He’s the help you’re looking for.


Jessica Thompson is the author of Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family and the coauthor (with Elyse Fitzpatrick) of Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. She is a wife, a mother of three, and a member of an Acts 29 church.

 

 


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Christ in All of Scripture – Job 42:10–17

 

Job 42:10–17

“And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.


And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.

And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days.”


Is the book of Job’s “happy ending” tacked on? Is it a sort of reassurance, to make the reader breathe easy again after emerging from the wringer? No. Job’s happy ending is a resolution that deserves the word “profound.” As ever with God’s work in a person’s life, Job’s character or inner self is more important to God than Job’s “doings.” Thus, the provided-for life that Job ended up with was not provided until he prayed in selfless fashion for his three unworthy friends (Job 42:10).

We are also told that Job’s sufferings were “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). Everything that happens to us comes from God. “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Such truths challenge us no less than they challenged Job, but they are also responsible for leading Job (and us) to a right understanding of the God who provides eternity—even if it is through earthly difficulties. God’s purposes are eternal as he weans us from earth and woos us to heaven.

Finally, Elihu’s prediction of how Job’s life was supposed to end, actually came true: “If [people] listen and serve [God], they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness” (Job 36:11). “Job died, an old man, and full of days” (Job 42:17), with his losses restored and possessions increased (Job 42:12–16). Even his children were doubled, if one considers the existence of those already in eternity with those new on earth. As the expression goes, “It’s never too late.” We could also say, on the basis of Job, that things are never so bad that God is not present and “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). Of course, for many of those who suffer in this world, prosperity and pleasantness await fulfillment in the new heavens and new earth, but this reality is no less real for those of faith. Through Job we learn that God will do whatever is necessary to claim the hearts of those he loves. His eternal love is solace, sufficiency, and satisfaction for all whose ultimate hope is in him.

It’s the old, old story, of Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus the tax collector, Peter the denier, James and John the Sons of (raging) Thunder, Paul the Christian-tracker, and Cornelius the sideliner. And us. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).


This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.

 

July 21, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Gospel Transformation Bible | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:38 am | 0 Comments »

Video: Elyse Fitzpatrick on How She Reads the Bible

WOWM - Personal Story

This video with Elyse Fitzpatrick is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.


In this video, author and speaker Elyse Fitzpatrick explains why she stopped reading through the entire Bible every year and reminds us that God doesn’t get “mad” at us when we miss a day of reading his Word.


Elyse Fitzpatrick on How She Reads the Bible
from Crossway on Vimeo.


Elyse M. Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored or coauthored 18 books, including Because He Loves MeGive Them GraceComforts from Romans, Comforts from the Cross, and Found in Him.

 


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