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Category Archives: Spiritual Life

BOOK REVIEW ON WILLIAM P FARLEY’S: “THE SECRET OF SPIRITUAL JOY”

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Pursuing The Path To Biblical Joy

Book Review By Dr. David P. Craig

I’m always looking for good resources to help me and others become more joyful in the Lord. Bill Farley has written an excellent little book that covers the topics of humility, thanksgiving, gratitude, God’s sovereignty, and the work of Christ on the cross and how these realities intersect to bring about deep joy in the follower of Jesus.

Using biblical stories and principles Farley demonstrates what we need to put off (e.g., grumbling, pride and self-pity) and that God ultimately motivates His followers by convincing us that the work of Jesus and all His commands are not burdensome, but for our own good and His ultimate glory.

As I finished this little book I was given practical ways to become more humble, trusting, content, and grateful. My joy significantly increased as I was exposed to the glory of God in His sovereign plans to bring about my salvation and sanctification.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to deepen their joy in the Lord, or as a great book to give away to those who are battling discouragement, bitterness, or lack the joy of the Lord. In Farley’s book you will find that the secret to joy is found in the gospel and the blessings of living in the gospel realities of your every day life.

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Book Review of Jammin Goggin & Kyle Strobel: “The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb”

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The Amazing Power of Weakness

Book Review By Dr. David P Craig

I can remember how discouraged I used to get when as a young pastor I would attend Pastor’s conferences and hear stories of pastor’s bragging about how “great” their ministries were. I would always come back from those conferences wondering if I was really “called” to ministry because I wasn’t experiencing the “greatness” these other pastors were experiencing. In my late twenties I took on a pastorate in a rural community that nobody (myself included) had ever heard of. About six months into my ministry I heard about a “rural pastors conference” and decided to see if this would help me in my new ministry. Before the first session, we had a “meet and greet” time and I remember everyone introducing themselves and trying to describe the area they were serving in – because nobody heard of each other, and nobody had what would be described as a “great” ministry.

There was such a liberating and freeing feeling being around pastors that knew they were weak, ministering in obscurity, and all recognized that if God didn’t show up – we were in big trouble. I love this book because all the examples in this book are encouraging. When you are around ego it deflates you, when you are around weakness it elates you! All of us pastors had nothing to prove, and nothing to brag about, but we all shared our need of the power of God to sustain and guide us in our respective ministries. Since that time I’ve primarily interacted with bi-vocational pastors and pastors of smaller churches because they are usually very real, humble, and focused on needing help from God – not on how they can help others be “great.”

It was at that conference that I realized that God calls most pastors to obscure places and average ordinary ministries. Most pastors will never make the cover of “Christianity Today” or write a book that makes a notable “best-seller” list. Honestly, I’m good with that. Enter Goggin and Strobel’s book. They aren’t down on mega churches (I don’t think they even use this word in their book). However, they give an excellent analysis of what makes for the ministry of the Lamb (ministering out of weakness – Kingdom ministry from above) versus ministry from the Dragon (ministering out of the flesh – from the Kingdom of Darkness and Satan).

I’ve experienced ministry out of the flesh driven by pride and ego; and I’ve experienced ministry that comes from weakness, brokenness, and of the Spirit. I think that once you experience the power of brokenness or ministering out of weakness you never want to go back to the “dark side.” I’ve been around pastors and churches where God doesn’t even have to show up and nothing would even have to be changed. The author’s do an excellent job of showing from the Bible how the way of power has infiltrated many churches today. It is not just dangerous – it’s demonic. This is a serious charge.

My favorite aspect of this book are the highlights from interviews that Goggin and Strobel share from several well respected faithful older Christians: J.I. Packer, Eugene Peterson, Jean Vanier, Dallas Willard, John Perkins, and Marva Dawn. Through the interviews and Scripture the author’s give a compelling case for why ministry in dependence on God rather than our own skills and resources are more powerful in the long haul of ministry. Power in ministry comes when the Holy Spirit is depended upon to show up because we are operating out of our relationship and satisfaction in Christ. Power is not about self, resources, skills, it’s evident from above when we humbly focus on exalting Jesus above all things.

I hope this book gets a wide reading. I think it is wise, biblical, and will encourage pastors and Christians who are serious about faithfully serving Christ in power out of weakness in dependence on Him for life-long ministry.

 

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Book Review on Tim Keller’s and Sam A Sam Allberry’s. Explore By The Book: 90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, and James.

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A Devotional That Helps You Think About and Apply God’s Word

Book Reviewed By Dr. David P. Craig

There are several great features in this devotional. (1) It feels like you are sitting down with   the authors and having a Bible study with them in an intimate setting (Sam Allberry writes the sections on John 14-17 and James; and Tim Keller writes the section that takes you through the book of Romans). (2) Each author walks you through verse by verse exposition and interjects thought provoking questions related to interpretation and application. (3) The devotional aspect of the study relates to guidance in ways to think, pray, and act on the basis of what the passage for the day articulated.

Allberry and Keller ask great questions and draw excellent practical implications from each daily devotional. It is recommended by the author’s that you take notes and record the following for all 90 studies: (1) Record the highlight of the passage – the truth about God that most struck you; (2) Record the questions you have about what you have read and your best attempts at answering them; (3) Record the way/s you want to change on the basis of how the Holy Spirit is prompting you to change your attitudes and actions on regard to what you have read from Scripture; (4) After you have finished the study, record one sentence summing up how God has spoken to you through His Word; and lastly (5) Pray a short prayer in response to what you have been instructed to believe and do.

I highly recommend this devotional – especially for new Bible students. It will guide you into becoming a “doer of the Word” as James 1:22 instructs.

 

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Book Review on Bold Reformer by David S. Steele

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Book Review By Dr. David P. Craig

I have to start out this review by commenting on the author. Dr. David S. Steele, I am privileged to say is a very dear friend with whom I am blessed to have known for close to 30 years. We met at Multnomah University (Multnomah School of the Bible) back in the mid 1980’s, where we were roommates and have remained good friends ever since. We also earned our doctorates together in the early 2000’s in Seattle. I write this to say that I am very biased in whole heartedly recommending this book because the author is one of the men I most admire and respect on planet Earth. Whether he speaks or writes – I listen! He is one of the most disciplined pastors I know. He loves God deeply, and is passionate that others would come to know Him through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are both Lead/Preaching pastors in our respective churches (he in Washington; I’m in California); approximately the same age; and both have had our share of trials and triumphs in ministry. I believe what makes this such a great book to recommend is because Dr. Steele writes as a theologian, pastor, and practitioner. There are no theories here. What is written are biblical truths that have been forged in the trenches of ministry. Dave Steele is indeed a Bold Reformer in the ilk of men like Martin Luther, the Apostle Paul, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and other godly men who have been courageous in the trenches of ministry who preceded us.

Bold Reformer is a great book because it cuts through theories and fads and hones in on essential theological truths that are necessary whether past, present, or future. It is a book that I have now read twice, and will definitely read again. It’s especially a helpful book for pastors in the trenches and would-be pastors. In this book Dr. Steele writes about the essential foundations a pastor needs to believe and promises he can rely on through thick and thin. I am grateful for my friend, and grateful that out of his own trials he has written a helpful and encouraging book for pastors to never give up.

This year (2017) will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s famous nailing of the 95 Theses on the castle door at Wittenberg that sparked the Reformation. I truly believe that this book has the potential to spark a new reformation in pastors today. The same principles that Martin Luther applied are necessary today and needed desperately in order to bring about reformation and revival. I am hopeful that Bold Reformer will be used to bring about a new reformation of and for the glory of our awesome God as it is widely oread and practiced.

 

The Christian’s A-Z’s of Thanksgiving By Dr. David P. Craig

 

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What do Christians have to be thankful for every day and not take for granted as we contemplate the many blessings we have through Christ? Here are my A-Z’s of Thanksgiving:

A = Adoption – I have been chosen unconditionally and eternally into the family of God: Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

B = Baptism – I have been cleansed, washed, made new, and am now identified with Christ through the ordinance of baptism an external symbol of an inner reality: Romans 6:4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

C = Christ – I am a new creation in Christ: 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

D = Disciple – I have a perfect Leader to follow – the Lord Jesus Christ: Luke 6:40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

E = Evangelism – I have good news to share with every human being on the planet: Acts 20:24, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

F = Father – I have an intimate relationship with a perfect Heavenly Father who loves to answer my prayers: Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

G = Glory – Everything I do can be done for God’s glory: 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

H = Heaven – I know that Jesus has prepared a perfect place for me to live when I die: John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

I = Identity – In Christ my identity is totally secure: Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

J = Justified – Because Jesus’ righteousness has been imputed to me in exchange for my sin I am declared sinless and righteous by God the Father forever: Titus 3:6-7, “whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

K = Kingdom – I belong to an everlasting Kingdom ruled by a Perfect King: Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

L = Love – I am loved by a perfect Lover: John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

M = Mission – I have a purpose to live for that matters forever: Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

N = New Birth – I have been made alive spiritually in Christ by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit: Titus 3:5, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

O = Obedience – I have a new inclination to love God and my neighbor with my heart, mind, soul and strength: 1 John 3:23, “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”

P = Peace – I am at peace with God forever by faith in Jesus: Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Q = Qualities I share character attributes of God: Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

R = Rapture – I will one day meet the saints and Jesus in the air: 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

S = Scripture – In the 66 Books of the Bible I have all the revelation from God I need for salvation and sanctification: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

T = Truth – In Scripture I have all the objective truth I need to guide my every thought and decision for living a godly life: John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

U = Unity – Just as the members of the Trinity are one; I can be unified with my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world: Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

V = Vengeance – I don’t have to worry about my enemies; God will deal justly with those who have hurt or betrayed me: Romans 12:19, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

W = Wrath – Thank God He has punished Jesus for my sins and as a result I will never experience His wrath: Romans 3:24-25, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

X = Xenophobia – I no longer need to be afraid of God: Romans 5:10-11, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Y = Yahweh – I am grateful that God is the “I AM”. He has the power of being in and of Himself and thus is totally capable of sustaining His creation and carrying out His glorious purposes: Revelation 1:8, “ I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Z = Zion – I can look forward to a fortress – my eternal home – that will never be destroyed, or decay – a perfect city to live with Christ and His family forever: Isaiah 60:14, The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you, and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”

 

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BOOK REVIEW OF NICHOLAS WOLTERSTORFF’S “LAMENT FOR A SON”

REVIEWED BY DR. DAVID P. CRAIG

LAMENT FOR A SON

HELPS US GRIEVE IN A HEALTHY AND BIBLICAL MANNER

Nicholas Wolterstorff is a brilliant professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. This little book (111 pages) can be read as short devotionals; in one sitting; or used as a resource to guide a person through their own grief or helping a friend in their own grief.

What makes this book unique is that Nicholas wrote the book as a very personal expression of his own grief in grappling with the death of his son (aged 25) who died in a rock climbing mishap while living in Europe in 1983. Wolterstorff’s journaling allows the reader to enter into one’s pain at an emotional, theological, and philosophical level.

The most helpful section of the book is when Wolterstorff delves into how God suffers with us in our losses, and how he contemplates the sufferings of God the Father and His own Son’s death on the cross for the sins of humanity.

Reading this book makes one appreciate the brevity, emotions, and depths of ultimate meaning in contemplating what loss signifies; and what ultimate gain means because of the reality of the Gospel – that Jesus empathizes with our plight and has entered into our suffering from the inside out. I highly recommend this book for parents that have lost a child; widows and widowers; and pastors, counselors, and friends who seek to comfort their friends who have experienced the loss of a loved one (especially a young child or young adult).

The author has done grievers a great service by entering into his own pain; the suffering of God; and gives us helps for wrestling with our pain in grief. This book can only help lighten the load of grief for those experiencing great loss. I would also recommend this book be used as a gift to give to loved ones grappling with the big question: “Where is God in all of my pain?”

 

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A GUIDE FOR PRAYING THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD

PRAYING THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD

Praying with Your eyes open Richard Pratt

(Adapted from Appendix B in Pray With Your Eyes Open by Richard L. Pratt Jr.)

Incommunicable Attributes (Qualities that belong to God alone):

INDEPENDENT: “…He does whatever pleases Him” (Ps. 115:3; cf. John 5:26; Rom. 11:35-36).

INFINITE: “…from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90:1-2; cf. Pss. 33:11; 93:2; 145:13; Heb. 1:8-12).

ETERNAL: “…the LORD, the Eternal God” (Gen. 21:33; cf. Neh. 9:5-6; John 8:58; Rev. 1:8).

INCOMPREHENSIBLE: “…beyond our understanding” (Job 36:26; cf. Isa. 40:18-26; Matt. 11:27; Rom. 11:33-34).

PRE-EMINENT: “…all things were created by Him and for Him…” (Col. 1:15-19; cf. Exod. 15:1,11, 18; Rev. 19:11-16).

SOVEREIGN: “I will do all that I please…” (isa. 46:10; cf. Ps. 135:6; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11).

TRANSCENDENT: “…beyond our reach…” (Job 37:23; cf. Exod. 33:20-23; Ps. 104:1-4; Isa. 40:21-26; 1 Tim. 6:15-16).

THE ONE AND ONLY: “…there is but one God…” (1 Cor. 8:6; cf. Deut. 6:4; Isa. 45:21-22; 1 Tim. 2:5).

MAJESTIC: “In the greatness of Your Majesty…” (Exod. 15:7; cf. 15:6, 11; Job 37:22; Ps. 8:1,9; Jude 25).

EVERYWHERE (OMNIPRESENT) : “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:23-24; cf. 2 Chron. 2:6; Ps. 139:7-16; Acts 17:272-8).

ALL-KNOWING (OMNISCIENT): “…You alone know the hearts of all men…” (1 Kings 8:39; cf. Ps. 139:1-6; Prov. 3:19-20; 1 Cor. 2:10).

ALL-POWERFUL (OMNIPOTENT) : “…Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14; cf. 1 Sam. 2:6-7; Ps. 18:13-15; Rev. 19:6).

UNCHANGING (IMMUTABLE) “…You remain the same…” (Ps. 102:27; cf. Mal. 3:6;James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8).

Communicable Attributes (Belong to God & can be reflected in us via the HS):

HOLINESS: “Your ways, O God, are holy” (Ps. 77:13; cf. Isa. 6:3; 57:15; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Rev. 4:8).

WISDOM: “…magnificent in wisdom…” (Isa. 28:29; cf. Jer. 10:12; 1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:2-3).

TRUTHFULNESS: “…God is truthful…” (John 3:33; cf. Num. 23:19; Isa. 45:19; John 14:6).

LOVE: “…His unfailing love…” (Ps. 33:5,18, 22; cf. Exod. 15:13; Pss. 13:5-6; 89:2; Rom. 8:38-39; Eph. 3:17-19; 5:1-2).

GOODNESS: “…He is good…” (2 Chron. 7:3; cf. Gen. 1:31; Pss. 119:68;145:9; Mark 10:18).

FAITHFULNESS: “…He is the faithful God…” (Deut. 7:9; cf. Pss. 33:4; 100:5; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Thess. 5:24).

MERCY: “…His mercy is great…” (2 Sam. 24:14; cf. Neh. 9:31; Dan. 9:9; Luke 1:50, 54).

KINDNESS: “…He shows unfailing kindness…” (2 Sam. 22:51; cf. isa. 54:8; Jer. 9:24; Romans 11:22).

PATIENCE: “…His unlimited patience…” (1 Tim. 1:16; cf. Neh. 9:30; Rom. 3:25; 2 Peter 3:15).

JUSTICE: “…all His ways are just…” (Deut. 32:4; cf. Job 37:23; Psalm 99:4; Luke 18:7-8).

RIGHTEOUSNESS: “…My righteousness will never fail…” (Isa. 51:6; cf. Ps. 89:14; Jer. 23:5-6; 1 Cor. 1:30).

WRATH: “…expresses His wrath every day…” (Ps. 7:11; cf. Deut. 29:28; Isa. 13:13; Rom. 1:18; 5:9; 9:22; Rev. 19:15).

JEALOUSY: “…a jealous God…” (Exod. 34:14; cf. Deut. 4:24; Nah. 1:2; Zech. 8:2; 2 Cor. 11:2).

GRACE: “…God, gracious, and compassionate…” (Neh. 9:17; cf. Exod. 34:6-7; Isa. 26:10; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5-7).

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Prayer Helps

 

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