Sunday, November 30, 2014

Reading List! (November 30, 2014)

Somehow I managed to get through a LOT of books this month! I was pretty into some of the reading though so that helped.
Finished this month:

A Hunger for God by John Piper
This was my second time reading through this one, and I picked up again kind of on a whim. Very encouraging and good reminders! It’s about fasting, which I agree is one of the most overlooked principles of the Christian life. It’s not just about self-denial it’s about pursuing Christ more than anything else!

“Faith is a spiritual feasting on Christ with a view to being so satisfied in Him that the power of all other allurements is broken.” (p. 42)

Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (various writers)
This book compares two views of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. Covenant Theology takes the “more continuity” view and Dispensationalism takes the “discontinuity” view. To be honest, this book was a bit frustrating for me because I don’t agree with either one! 1  Coming into the book with that presupposition I read this book very critically and carefully. I do seek to be open to differing views provided they can prove their point Scripturally.

Abraham’s Four Seeds by John G. Reisinger
If you’re interested in studying theology and particularly the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, the relationship between Israel and the Church you HAVE to read this book! John Reisinger is writing from a “New Covenant” middle position and contrasts “Dispensational Theology” (DT) and “Covenant Theology” (CT). These two systems have different yet similar views of the Old Testament and its relationship to the New Testament. Some may say this is a non-essential issue, yet it greatly affects your understanding of God’s purposes through history, the Church and the Christian’s relationship to God. There are a lot, and some pretty important implications that result depending on which system you believe.
When Scripture refers to the seed of Abraham who is it talking about? From the book title you can assume that Reisinger presents four different “seeds” of Abraham: There’s the 2 different physical seeds (Isaac & Ishmael), then there’s Christ and also the Church (spiritual seed). These need to be properly understood for you to have a clear understanding of God’s purposes through history. I’ll stop now, although I could probably go on and on…. And friends, theology really does matter!!!! So, at the very least put this book on your wish list!

Contentment, Prosperity and God’s Glory by Jeremiah Burroughs
Great little book on learning to be content. He focuses more in this book on how we need to learn to be content it times of blessing and prosperity – because that’s when we take things for granted.

“Oh, the greatest thing that I need is a thankful heart, for if I had but that, then I would be happy indeed.” (p. 114)
“The strength of a Christian is to enjoy God’s gifts, to make use of whatever God allows, to take the sweetness from it, and yet to avoid the temptation – in other words, to take away that which is good and to cast away that which is not good.” (p. 20)

Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller
This is a great book - I’m writing a book review for this book which I’ll be posting shortly, so you can read all about it soon!

Currently Reading:
Robert Chapman: Apostle of Love by Robert Peterson

Additional books I want to finish this month:
If You Bite & Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch
Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

1 For an outline of my position see this article:
For more information on this area of study I would recommend reading Abraham’s Four Seeds (see above).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When You Don’t Feel Thankful

There are often times in life where we just don’t feel thankful. It’s rather awful to admit because as Christians especially God has given us SO much – everything actually and much more than we deserve! But it’s also true that life is hard and often filled with trials, disappointments and struggles, and in dark moments it can be hard to see much of anything to be thankful for. I have been so burdened that I couldn’t sing “Count Your Many Blessings”, I have struggled to hold back the tears because while I knew that I did have many blessings, and especially in Christ, it didn’t feel like it. If I can be honest with you, being thankful sometimes hurts. It often means surrendering up yourself, giving up your desires for what you might have wanted or wished for and choosing to be thankful for what God has given you or in some cases, choosing to be thankful for what He has not given you. Having contentment in what God has given or not given is not easy and it’s in those dark times that the struggle to trust in God’s goodness is really real.

But while life is sometimes a struggle, there is hope; there is a foundation that we can stand on. While I sometimes falter, in that I don’t respond the way I ought to right away, in the end my faith is not in my circumstances, it’s in a God who never changes; a God who is faithful and sovereign over all – even those things that I don’t understand. Even when I struggle to be thankful, my heart still remembers God’s love and goodness, and the greatest blessing of all: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You want to be encouraged, meditate on Christ’s love for you – His perfect, sanctifying, satisfying love that will never let you go. Psalm 46:1-2 says, “The LORD is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…”

Earlier I mentioned the hymn “Count Your Blessings”. There is something about actually taking time to count your blessings, to specifically list them off that helps put things in perspective. So if you’re struggling to be thankful this week, start a list. I started a notebook awhile back that I titled “10,000 Reasons” (yes, after the song) where I write down little blessings as they come my way. Even if it’s a small thing like the sun shining, a pumpkin latte, coffee/tea with a friend, or someone's little encouragement – look for God’s little blessings. While it can be hard to count your blessings in times of trial, I’ll leave you with the words* to this hymn to encourage you to do just that!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.


When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.


*Words by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922) 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christ: The Cornerstone of Scripture

I have been doing a lot of study recently on the relationship between the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Some say there is continuity between the two (in other words they are closely connected and very unified), others say there is discontinuity (there’s some dis-connection and differences). I won’t go into the differing theological viewpoints in this post1 but there is one thing at the heart of this discussion that I think is really of most importance.

How do we interpret Scripture?

This is more than just whether or not we interpret Scripture literally or analogically, the question more is, what is our central focus as we seek to interpret Scripture?  Another way of asking this question is what is the central theme of Scripture? I’m sure that most Christians would say that the main theme through Scripture is Christ. While He is never mentioned in the Old Testament it still bears witness of Him. Jesus Himself said to the Jewish leaders, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39). The only Scriptures they had then were the Old Testament Scriptures, so Jesus was saying that the Old Testament was primarily testifying and speaking about Him. Later Jesus also said to his disciples, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Then Luke says that “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45). Again, these are the Old Testament Scriptures. The disciples didn’t understand how the Old Testament spoke of Jesus until He revealed it to them. Paul says that he became a minister of “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.” (Col 1:26) That mystery is, the Gospel in Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament God’s glorious salvation was shrouded in mystery, types and shadows, but in the New Testament it has been fully revealed.

When we read the Old Testament is important to understand two things. First, it’s important to read the Old Testament in its historical and canonical context (pre-cross). The original recipients did not have the knowledge we now have. However, since we now stand post-resurrection we have had the veil of mystery lifted and we are able to better understand the Old Testament because of its fulfillment in Christ. It’s important to understand that Christ stands as the cornerstone of Scripture, the lens through which we view and understand what was written. There are some theologians who say that we should not bring the new revelation of the New Testament to bear on the Old. But apart from Christ what does the Old Testament mean? Can we really understand the “mystery hidden” apart from Him? After all, it points towards Him. It testifies of Christ and must be viewed through that lens.

This, apparently, is a big issue of debate, but I think it’s of crucial importance. If you don’t view the Old Testament through the new revelation of the New Testament than either none of it really matters at all (discontinuity) or it all carries over to today (continuity)… that’s why there are the two extreme views. (Both views do this, which is why I disagree with both.) We do not go back to the past and look as through a mirror dimly, we have the full revelation of Scripture! If Jesus Himself helped the Apostles to understand the Old Testament Scriptures in light of His coming, should not we seek to do understand them the same way? And if the Apostles and writers of the New Testament themselves spiritualize the Old Testament should we still try to confine and understand it in its pre-cross context? Is it wrong hermeneutics to read new revelation into the old? Does that really “change” the meaning (as some say it does) or “expound” it? If all of Scripture intersects at the coming of Christ, than He is the cornerstone of truth and the key to unlocking Scripture, Old Testament and New and Scripture (Old or New) cannot be rightly and fully interpreted or understood apart from Him. Let Jesus be the lens by which we read and understand His Word because He changes everything.

1 There are often given just two major views on this subject: Continuity (Covenant theology) and Discontinuity (Dispensationalism) although there may be some CT people who will agree with this article. As mentioned in this article I do not fall in either category, but rather with a third viewpoint. For an outline of my position see this article:

For more information on this area of study I would recommend this book as a great comparison and contrast of Covenant theology and Dispensationalism: