FREEsources: 24 Free eBooks via Desiring God


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desiringGod.org has released a steady stream of free ebooks over the past few years and now they’ve put them all in the same space for our convenience! With volumes dealing with C.S. Lewis, John Bunyan, Luther, Edwards, abortion, disability, missions, and more, you’ll most likely find at least one resource worth your time and of interest to you! So go ahead and check out the list for yourself by clicking here: 24 Free ebooks!

FREEsources+Book Review: “You and Me Forever” by Francis and Lisa Chan


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I’ve been a fan of Francis Chan ever since his first book, Crazy Love-his passion for God is infectious and his urgency to live life fully for and in light of the gospel is inspiring. So when I heard that his latest book was on marriage, I was excited and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Then a strange things happened: I started to read the book….and couldn’t decide whether I absolutely loved it or just thought it was “meh.” Let me explain.

The subtitle for the book gives you an absolutely 100% accurate preview and summary of the book’s contents and main thrust: this is truly a book on “Marriage in Light of Eternity.” Francis says in the introduction that:

There are plenty of marriage books that will teach you how to get along and be happy. This is not one of those books. -p.10

Now it’s not that I was looking for this to be a book that was all about teaching me “how to get along and be happy.” It’s just that the book was so different and unique (and to be honest, challenging) that it took me a while to process what I actually thought about it.

You and Me Forever is a no-nonsense look at marriage through the lens of Biblical truth that says the here and now is temporary, a pilgrimage, a sojourn in a foreign land, and the not yet but soon to come is more wonderful than we can imagine. It’s in that context that chapter titles like “Marriage Isn’t that Great” and “Don’t Waste Your Marriage” make perfect sense and function as a call to remember what all of our first priorities are: life with Jesus.

This book is a quick read, but each chapter serves to hammer home the same point: Jesus is our first love and it’s only together in concerted and joyful service of him that marriage can be truly fulfilling, joyful, life-giving, and God-honoring.

You will never find true, lasting joy in someone or something. Marriage is not the source of joy, though many of us assume that it is. Joy is something we bring into our marriages because we are being filled with joy in our walk with God, and because we are confident of His promises. -p. 146

A few more things of note before the final verdict: 100% of the profits from this book go to support ministries that (among other things) help provide shelter and rehabilitation to thousands of exploited children and women around the world. The book is also available (legally!) for FREE directly from Francis and Lisa. To learn more about the book, the ministries supported by the purchase of the book, or to get a free copy, go to youandmeforever.org.

Somewhere around 3/4 of the way through the book, I realized that my reservations about the book stemmed from recognizing the truth that the book contains and points to…but not being very “comfortable” with that truth (and/or the straightforward and blunt way the Chans deliver it). The book forced me to reevaluate my own beliefs about marriage in light of eternity and how my actions do or don’t match up with those beliefs and it made no apologies about doing so!

We all need to be challenged like this occasionally, especially on a topic as important and life-changing as marriage. For that reason, You and Me Forever gets 5 out of 5 stars. It wouldn’t be the first or only book I would recommend on marriage, but it has its own unique and needed place in every Christian’s library.

MLK The Baptist Preacher


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Among many, many other things, Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist preacher. Much of the strength, dignity, and beauty of his message came from a worldview aligned with the gospel and in service of the King. In celebration of this day, his life, and his legacy, here are a few quotes of his from sermons:

  • “The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well-being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial” (from “Pilgrimage to Non-Violence,” 1960).
  • “Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies” (from “Loving Your Enemies” sermon, 1957).

You can read more about Dr. King’s faith in this article on Christianity Today, where I read the above quotes: Today I’m Grateful for Dr. King

[Reblog] A Response to Newsweek on the Bible


Newsweek recently had a cover story on the Bible that got a lot of attention and made some pretty ridiculous claims. There have been some good responses to it so far, but this is one of the best I’ve read so far. If the original article raised some questions for you or someone you know or if you’re just curious and want to read how Michael Brown responds to the original, then definitely read it! Here’s a taste:

The real question is: How reliable are the Hebrew texts we have today, the ones used in the translation of the Old Testament? And how reliable are the Greek texts we have today, the ones used in the translation of the New Testament?

Actually, they are remarkably well-preserved, to the point that we can say that, with the exception of changes in spelling of words (like colour vs. color in English) and the adding of vowels (which are not part of the original Hebrew text), for the most part, when we read the Old Testament in Hebrew, we are reading the identical Hebrew texts that Jesus would have read in his hometown synagogue as a boy….[and] the truth is that the evidence for the reliability of our New Testament manuscripts massively outweighs the evidence against it…

The Bible is a coherent book with a coherent message, and it has been passed on to us carefully…sometimes [God] does speak in whispers and riddles so that we will seek him more earnestly and study his Word more seriously rather than trying to relate to him as if he could be reduced to a simple mathematical formula. Is it surprising that there is a level of mystery and wonder in our relationship with God? Are we arrogant enough to think that, as human beings, we can fully comprehend the Lord? Can all divine revelation be packaged in a neat little box? And it isn’t it fitting that God reveals himself to those who humble themselves?

Read more here: A Response to Newsweek on the Bible

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Finding Jesus in the Apocrypha


Money. Sex. Power. Piety. This is the name of the class that I’m taking this week at Golden Gate in between the Fall and Spring semesters (during the J[anuary]-term). The class focuses on the period between 500ish BC and 50 AD, or what’s known as the Second Temple Period of Judaism.

As part of prep for the course I’ve read many writings that I’d never read before, including books and excerpts of books from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha–categories that have slippery definitions depending on who/what you read but which at the minimum equate to various levels of “Jewish or Christian writings that are outside the canon of Scripture.”

One of the major characteristics of this period of Jewish history and the literature produced within it is a further development and discussion of ideas about eternal life. We clearly see the evidence of this discussion in the New Testament in passages like Acts 23:1-10, where the Apostle Paul is examined before the Sanhedrin and shrewdly uses the differing opinions of the Pharisees (the theological progressives) and the Sadducees (the theological conservatives) on the idea of whether there is a resurrection to his advantage.

51ZMUSgfpNL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_In Early Judaism: Texts and Documents on Faith and Piety (one of our texts for this course), authors Nickelsburg and Stone summarize one such excerpt from the Wisdom of Solomon chapters 2-5 as:

…the case of a righteous man whose enemies condemn him to death, believing that there is no reckoning after death. To their surprise, after their death they are confronted by the righteous man, exalted in the heavenly courtroom. As their judge, he condemns them to that punishment whose existence they had denied. (p. 134)

To be sure, this already sounded like an interesting portion from this document of Early Judaism. However, I was surprised by the powerful emotions the passage stirred as I recognized within it echoes of various New Testament descriptions of Jesus.

From Wisdom of Solomon 2:

2 17“Let us see if [the righteous man’s] words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; 18For if the righteous man is God’s son, He will help him, and He will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. 19Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is and make trial of his forbearance. 20Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

In 2:21-4:19 the book takes a detour from the narrative to discuss God’s purposes in destining the good for eternal life, examining Him allowing the righteous to suffer in this life, the eventual fate of the righteous in the life to come as well as rewards and punishments, and Biblical examples of the righteous who died before their time. The scene following the wicked men’s murder of the righteous man and their own eventual deaths picks up in 4:20:

4 20“They will come with dread when their sins are reckoned up, and their lawless deeds will convict them to their face. 5 1Then the righteous man will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who have afflicted him and those who make light of his labors. 2When they see him they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at his unexpected salvation. 3They will speak to one another in repentance, and in anguish of spirit they will groan and say, 4‘This is the man whom we once held in derision and made a byword of reproach-we fools! We thought that his life was madness and that his end was without honor. 5Why has he been numbered among the sons of God? And why is his lot among the holy ones? 6So it was we who strayed from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness did not shine on us, and the sun did not rise on us.'”

Wow. There’s a lot I could say about this passage, but I’ll content myself with simply saying that parallels in the Gospels immediately popped up and I couldn’t help but be thankful for the Righteous One–God’s son– who suffered on my behalf and will stand in judgement at the end of all things and intercede on my behalf. Thanks be to God!

For those interested, here are two passages from Matthew that came to mind:

“In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him and said, ‘He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He has put His trust in God; let God rescue Him now–if He wants Him! For He said, ‘I am God’s Son.'”  -Matthew 27:41-44 (HCSB)

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as  a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left…Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels…And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.'” -Matthew 25:31-33, 41, 46 (HCSB)

Our Father (“Riffing” on the Lord’s Prayer)


A specific example Tim Keller passes on in Prayer of how to transition from reading and meditating on the Word to free-form praying comes from Martin Luther, who

…suggests that after meditating on the Scripture, you should pray through each petition of the Lord’s Prayer, paraphrasing and personalizing each one using your own needs and concerns.
-from Prayer p. 93

Keller uses the phrase “Spiritually ‘Riffing’ on the Lord’s Prayer” (which might be my favorite phrase of his ever, for various reasons haha) to describe the process. He suggests that this is a beneficial way to both provide structure to your initial prayers to help focus flighty minds like mine. To be very honest, distracting thoughts have often keep me from beginning or completing times I’ve set aside for prayer and have discouraged me in past pursuits of deeper prayer.

As such, I’ve found this to be an immensely helpful tool to add to my “spiritual tool belt” as it were-and it’s so simple! Who among us doesn’t already know at least most of some version (ESV, KJV, NIV, or a combination) of the Lord’s Prayer by heart? [Incidentally, this is an excellent example of the power memorization of the Word has to impact the other spiritual disciplines.] And who among us couldn’t benefit from implementing the model Jesus gave his disciples in answer to their request to teach them to pray?

Now neither Keller nor Luther (nor I!) are suggesting that this is something you must do every time you pray. To turn this into a law or requirement or “the” way to pray is to miss the point. Instead, it’s offered as a helpful tool. May we avail ourselves of it and other similar tools in our daily prayers.

Bonus Content:

Hillsong Worship’s latest cd has a song based on the Lord’s Prayer. There are plenty of other songs based on it, but I enjoyed listening to this one and thought I’d share it 🙂