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Archive for February, 2009

In the Darkness Before the Light

By Nancy Guthrie

I was about a year out of college and had made my home in a new city and a new church as a young single person. It was May, the week after Mother’s Day. Now Mother’s Day was a big deal at this church—mothers honored, a sermon about motherhood. Corsages abounded. And I was dumbfounded. How is it that a few weeks before, Palm Sunday had come and gone with no mention at all? Of course Easter Sunday was a bright and shiny celebration, yet there had been no congregational contemplation of the cross in the days in between.

We simply can’t appreciate the light unless we’ve allowed ourselves to sit a bit in the darkness. I remember boldly making an appointment to talk to the pastor about it. He was very kind, though not particularly responsive to my questions and concern.

Now, over twenty years later, while I am grateful that my church leads me in going to the cross before celebrating the empty tomb, I realize that it isn’t so much about what my church does on Sundays or on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday that makes the most difference in my heart. I must choose to contemplate the cross. I must make room in my schedule and in my heart and my mind to enter into the darkness of garden, the cruelty of the courtroom, the agony of Golgotha. And not in a vague or sentimental way, but in a scripture-saturated way that causes my heart to be broken over my sin and reminds me of the too-good-to-be-true truth of the gospel—that Jesus took my sinful record of wrong upon himself on the cross, and has given to me his own perfect record of righteousness.

Having just received my author copies of Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, an anthology of short meditations of the cross and resurrection by great theologians and Bible teachers of the past and present, I sat down last week and read through the selections I put together so many months ago. I was moved to tears and wonder and worship. I’m hoping that will be the case for many who pick up this book in a desire to prepare their hearts for the joy of Easter, that it will be an even more significant celebration after spending some time in the dark shadow of the cross.

Learn more about Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.

February 25, 2009 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 1:17 pm | 0 Comments »

“More Precious Than Gold” Interview with Sam Storms

In his latest book More Precious Than Gold, Sam Storms encourages readers to experience what he and generations of Christians have found to be true: that the whole of the Christian faith is about lifting God higher and magnifying his name—even during difficult times.

Dr. Storms recently answered some of our questions about More Precious Than Gold:

Why did you choose to write this on the book of Psalms?

Something about the Psalms reaches out and takes hold of my heart. It may be the brutal honesty of the psalmists themselves, their unashamed wrestling with the doubts and fears in their heart, or perhaps their exuberant praise and celebration of God. Or again, it may be the exalted portrait of God that I find there. On a more practical and pastoral note, I wrote on the Psalms because they speak so directly and powerfully to the human soul and the many struggles each of us faces in our relationship with God.

What did you learn as you wrote this book?

I think the greatest lesson was the capacity of the Word of God to challenge my heart and change it. As I meditated on these hymns of praise and these songs of sorrow and lament, I simply couldn’t stay the same. Indifference is impossible when one reads the Psalms. Its portrait of God and his power and providence and goodness and mercy and kindness and sovereignty and, well, I could go on endlessly, pierce the heart and elevate the soul and enlighten the mind in a unique and unprecedented way.

What do you hope readers will gain from More Precious Than Gold?

I hope they will gain a new understanding of God and themselves. To put it briefly and bluntly, the Psalms can be summarized in this: “Woe is me! Wow is Thee!”

In what ways do you think this book can relate to and transform the everyday lives and experiences of readers?

No one struggles to find the Psalms relevant. Whether it is in the grief of the psalmist or his doubts about God’s goodness or his satisfaction in God’s glory or his pleas for God’s help or his exalted view of God’s majesty or his dependence on God’s mercy, every syllable of this book speaks to the hurts and fears and joys and problems faced by the believer today.

What are some specific examples of experiences or trials that the writers of the Psalms faced that could relate to readers?

I think the most vivid and common experience is the fear that God is indifferent to the evil in our world and that he is indifferent to the suffering of his people. Often the psalmist will wonder aloud, “Where is God? Why do my enemies appear to be winning? Doesn’t he care?” Of course, the good news is that in each case they remind themselves of God’s faithfulness in the past and his promises for today and the future. Yes, there is doubt in the psalmist’s heart, as so often there is in ours but never despair. When God feels distant, remote, and uninvolved, the psalmist sets an example for us of how to press into his heart and seek his face and pray relentlessly for the manifestation of his goodness.

Who would you say this book is designed for?

Without wanting to sound grandiose, it is designed for everyone! Seriously, it is. Or I could narrow it down a bit and say it is designed for the person who is desperate to experience the nearness of God, the person who has often fallen into doubt, the person who is afraid to vent their frustrations for fear that God will cast them aside, the person who longs to see the grandeur of God in nature and in redemption and in countless other ways. That’s the person I had in mind when I wrote this book.

What specifically inspired the title?

The title was inspired by the many affirmations in the Psalms concerning how precious and prized and sweet and life-changing are the words of God. Just read Psalm 19 and 119 to get a feel for this. As precious and costly as gold may be, God’s words are more to be prized and sought after than any earthly treasure!


SAM STORMS (PhD, University of Texas) is founder of Enjoying God Ministries, which provides biblical and theological resources to the body of Christ. He is also the senior pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City and is a former professor. Storms travels both in the United States and abroad, speaking at churches and conferences. He is the author of fourteen books, including the first two books in this series: The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians and To the One Who Conquers: 50 Daily Mediations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3.

February 24, 2009 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Interview,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 2:47 pm | 0 Comments »

Death Defeated

Thank you for continuing with us as we share excerpts of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Living Water: Studies in John 4, published last month for the first time.

In chapter 24, entitled “Death Defeated”, Lloyd-Jones discusses the problem of death and takes us to the glorious implications of the Resurrection:

We must agree that the ultimate problem of all problems is that of death, the problem of the grave and of what lies beyond. The apostle Paul said, The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26), and it is indeed the last enemy. These other problems that we have to confront come and go—scientific questions and problems, the problem of pain and suffering, political problems, the problem of war. All these may or may not be urgent, but there is one that is inevitable, inexorable, ineluctable—the problem of death. No one can evade it. And, of course, we are bound to be concerned about it. Here we are in life, full of activity and interests—then comes death. Is there any purpose in it? Does it all just end here, all the bother and all the trouble and all the agony and all the suffering – does it all finish? And what then? (p.310)

There, then, is the difference that his resurrection has made to all who believe in him. “He hath abolished death.” He has defeated death. But beyond that, he has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). If you are not thrilled at the thought of this, I ask you to examine whether you are Christian at all! “He has brought life and immortality to light.” Life, not merely continuous existence, the existence that people have in this world. Full living, full being, a real life!

That is life! Life with him, and with him forever and ever. It is a glorified life. This mortal flesh cannot inherit immortality; this corruption cannot inherit incorruption. There is going to be a change, a transformation. He was changed himself – he arose in a glorified body. And our bodies will also be glorified. No longer will we have these old bodies; the body will be the same, but it will be transfigured, transformed, glorified. There will be no disease, no weakness, no decay. There will be an eternal, a spiritual, a glorified body, and oh, the glory and the wonder of it all! There will be no sighing there, there will be no sin, there will be no sorrow, there will be no weeping, there will be no parting, there will be no death. It is an entirely new realm and an entirely new kind of life (p. 321).

February 5, 2009 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Death,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 9:22 am | 0 Comments »