Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Books of 2012

This year has probably been the first year that I've mostly read digital books. From getting good deals on Amazon for the Kindle, or just choosing to read digitally I've been soaking it in. These books below have been the most enjoyable to me and may or may not have been published this year. I give all these books full recommendation to you!

Chai Linne, A Heart For Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissent, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China's Daughters
This was probably my favorite book I read, just in terms of awesome reading. This is an amazing story and I could not put it down. At the end I was so encouraged at what God had done in this woman's life. Amazing!

Creston Mapes, Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol

Creston Mapes is a skilled writer. I loved the story of this book. It was a quick read. And I want to read it again.

Jared Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness
Gospel Wakefulness is simply a treasure for me. I plan on going back to this book often to stir me to Christ. 

Raymond C. Ortlund, Proverbs: Wisdom that Works 
This is the only commentary that I put on this list, but it's not a dry commentary by any means. A lot of people think of commentaries as books that only pastors should read, but this one is different in that sense. Of course it is helpful for pastors or church leaders, but many people will be able to read this and enjoy it. It is Christ-centered, faithful to the text, practical, and devotional. It is one of the best commentaries I have ever read. 

Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God 
When I first picked this book up, I knew it would be good, but I did not know it would be that good! Wow! We all struggle with giving compliments in a God-centered way that encourages the person but doesn't flatter them. This book will help you a ton. I loved it!

Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
Highly recommend this book. Every Christian should read this. Everyone of us will go through hard times, and we need to know the truth's that will help us during that time. Bridges will help you to do that. 

J.D. Greear, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
Gospel is a call for the church to give up legalistic or moralistic tendencies and dive into the truth that the gospel of Christ is the power to live godly lives to the glory of God. I loved this book. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where is our Hope?

"She was a creative, beautiful girl who loved playing with her little brothers..." "We cannot imagine our life without her. We are mourning her loss, sharing our beautiful memories we have of her, and trying to help her brother understand why he can't play with his best friend."

On December 14th, 2012 tragedy hit the town of Newport, Connecticut. A 20 year old gunman stormed into an elementary school and killed 20 children and 6 adults including his mother.

Precious lives were taken. Precious children, who had their whole life in front of them, were killed. 

And now a couple days after the massacre the stories about each person are coming out. As I read about each individual, I just couldn't help but cry. Why did this happen? Why God? Those are some of the questions that many people are asking. Who would kill innocent children? I don't have the answers and I can't speak about why God allowed this to happen. But I do know that God has something to say to us.

A couple things I want to talk about to offer hope in this awful situation.

1) God does not promise us an easy life.
We have a tendency to put our hope in the people and the things of this world. We often look to this world to fulfill us.  But Scripture tells us in 1 John 2:15-17, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever" (NIV).

If there is anything that the shootings in Connecticut can do for us is to wake us up. The shooting tells us that our lives are fragile. Anything can happen. We could die or our loved ones could die. We are foolish if we put our ultimate hope in this world. 

2) Everyone has a story. 
In other words, people matter. The twenty year old shooter did not value human life and he took 26 human lives in a couple minutes. But God graciously gave those people life. He created them in His own image. And God has made all of us in his own image. We all have stories of joy, success, and failures. We all have fears, hopes, and dreams. Every person in this world matters, and should be pointed to the only One who can satisfy.

3) Jesus is the treasure. 
This shooting happened right in the middle of advent, the time when Christians all over the world prepare to celebrate the coming of the Savior into this world. Where do we turn for hope? Do we just hope things will get better? God tells us to put our hope in Him. He tells us to come to Him for life and everlasting joy.

God, the Father, sent his only Son to this sinful world to die. To die for his enemies. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8 (NIV). That tells us something about the heart of God. He cares about us. He's not going to leave us alone. He chose to respond to our sinfulness and brokenness. Jesus came to this earth humbly, living a perfect life for us, dying in our place on the cross to pay for our sins, and he rose again triumphantly defeating sin, Satan, and death for all who place their faith in Him!  Wow!

The events of this past weekend have left me heartbroken that so many lives were taken and so many families will have to spend this Christmas without their precious child or friend right next to them. It is so sad. But there is hope for us. Jesus Christ is an ever present Savior, responding to our brokenness with his grace.

These events have reminded me that this world is a bad savior, our lives are precious, and Jesus Christ deserves my full devotion and trust. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tweets of the Week Part 13

The law demands that we do it all; the gospel declares that Jesus paid it all. @PastorTullian

OT: anticipation. Gospels: manifestation. Acts: proclamation. Epistles: explanation. Revelation: consummation. Your Bible is about Jesus. @MattSmethurst

Holiness and sin cannot both survive and thrive in our lives. One or the other must die. @NancyDeMoss

Everyone lives for something, just a lot of people live for something that doesn't really matter. @JeffersonBethke

Prayer reminds us of who we're not. @BurkParsons