Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Well this is my last post on Beholding and Becoming. Time has become an issue and I feel that things have simply run their course. Another reason is that I have decided to begin a new blog that for me will be less time intensive and will match an ongoing passion of mine (unlike the writing here that has alternated between spurts and dry spells).

You can find it at http://www.redeemedbookworm.blogspot.com/

I want to say thanks to all three of my readers, its been a lot of fun and I hope you'll come with me to Redeemed Bookworm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quotes for the Week

"Satan shall not need to tempt him much who has already tempted himself. He who will work sin in his heart, a weak occasion will draw it out into his life."
- Obadiah Sedgwick, The Anatomy of Secret Sins.

"If we really believed that porn and gosspip were based on lies that don't satisfy, we wouldn't participate in them. Sin lies to us. We need to get in the habit of talking back with the truth."
- Jonathan Dodson, Fight Clubs, 16.

"I have a peaceful study, as a refuge from the hurries and noise of the world around me; the venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me, and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals."
- Samuel Davies

Monday, September 14, 2009


A review of Fight Clubs by Jonathan Dodson

This is the biggest little book I've ever read. I wish every author could cram this much pure awesomeness into so few pages. So much richness and power in fifty pages is rare.

The core of this book is a call to live the Gospel. Far too often discipleship focuses on the wrong thing. And Dodson points out how often accountability groups break down into coddling or legalism. I don't think its just accountability groups by the way, I think these tendencies exist in all forms of discipleship.

But Dodson calls us away from legalism and coddling to what he calls Gospel-centered Discipleship. The answer to the dangers of coddling and legalism is to recover Gospel motivations in our discipleship. Think of obedience based on delight in Jesus compared to legalism which looks at Jesus from afar only to discover examples of moral behavior, not to rejoice and delight in Him. Next we believe in both the promises and warnings of scripture. Drawn on ahead by the mind-blowing promises of God and prodded from behind by the warnings of a Holy God. Then there is the Gospel itself, which is both message (the report of the Good News which saves) and medium (the Person Jesus who purchased our salvation). Jesus has promised us that He will bring us to the end of our fight. There is also the call to begin and live the Christian life in repentance and faith. All of life is turning from sin and exercising faith in Jesus. faith that He will forgive and strengthen. Last in the motivation department Dodson points us to our need to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and to depend on the strength that the indwelling Spirit provides. He makes the compelling point that even Jesus obeyed int he power of the Holy Spirit.

Dodson closes with a stirring call to fight our sin in what he calls Fight Clubs. These are groups of two or three people (of the same gender) who meet to help each other fight their sin. These Fight Clubs have three rules. 1] Know your sin, 2] Fight your sin, 3] Trust your savior. I personally felt challenged to recommit myself to mt accountability partners.

All in all a great little book. *****

PS - you can buy it or download it for free at http://www.theresurgence.com/

PPS - there are some great Fight Club questions in an appendix that address the motivations of the heart instead of external behavior only - very helpful.

How Great Thou Art - Stuart K. Hine

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim: my God, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Jerry Bridges starts his book the Gospel for Real Life by making two points. The Gospel is for believers not just unbelievers. And that believers must preach the Gospel to themselves everyday. So in terms of his first goal of convincing us that we as believers need the Gospel - he does this admirably and movingly. As for the second goal of teaching us how to preach the Gospel to ourselves, well I think the verdict is mixed. I think that I now better understand how the Gospel applies to my day to day life, but I’m not sure that I better understand how to preach the Gospel to myself. There was no point where he stopped and said, ok we’ve talked about propitiation here’s how you would preach that to yourself in this particular situation. It just wasn’t there. But I feel challenged to live the Gospel, to live in light of the Gospel, and I feel inspired to preach the Gospel to myself.

But his central argument is absolutely correct. That too many Christians feel that the Gospel is how we get saved and is the message that we share with others so they can be saved, but it is has no lasting impact on how we live. This view certainly has some truth in it, the Good News that Jesus has died to atone for sins and that we can benefit savingly through repentance and faith, certainly this is the message that we need to saved and that others need to hear so that they can be saved. But Bridges is right to tell us there is more to the Gospel than a simple ticket to heaven. The Gospel shapes how we live and is our motivation for Christian living.

But I want to highlight two chapters that highlighted for me the importance and impact of the Gospel. First is The Empty Cup which was an explanation of the Bible’s teaching on how Jesus absorbed wrath of God for us. This truth that God has no wrath left for us should change how we live. We need not walk around obsessed with whether God is mad at us for our sins, instead we should embrace this truth, confess our sins, and get back to serving our Lord. Because if we live defeated lives consumed with this kind of fear, we will not be faithful to our God. Embrace this truth, God has no wrath left for His children, Jesus took it all.

The second chapter I want to highlight is The Scapegoat. This chapter hearkens back to Leviticus 16. Where the sin offering is made on the day of atonement with two goats. One goat is slaughtered to atone for sins pointing to Jesus atoning work on the cross. The second goat was sent away to a remote place, this pictured a work of Jesus that is too often forgotten, Jesus bore our sins away. We have no more sin to feel guilty about. Remember the promise in Psalm 103:12 - as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. They are removed from us. Once we have come to Jesus we have no more sin to make us feel defeated and guilty. It has been punished and carried away.

So now we are free to make these objective truths subjectively real. We must remember we do not fight the fight of holiness to be saved or to earn God’s favor or to make Him love us. We fight this fight for His glory, for our joy, and for the good of the Kingdom. So lets take the Gospel truths and remind our weak hearts each day what our might King Jesus has done for us.

Thank you Jerry Bridges for another awesome book, you are a Pastor to many of us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Quotes for the Week

“The outcome of the great war is not in question. It is certain. Christ will reign victoriously forever. The only question we must answer is this: Will we fight on His side or against Him? We must answer this question not just once, with our words, but daily, with our choices.”
- Randy Alcorn, Heaven, 103.

“Nothing can be more evident than the fact that in the sight of God our sins are incomparably more numerous, aggravated, and criminal than they appear to us. He regards us as deserving of an endless punishment, while we scarcely perceive that we deserve any punishment at all.”
- Edward Payson, Sins Evaluated by the Light of Heaven.

“Oh, What dreadful atheism is bound up in that man’s heart, who is more afraid of the eye of his father, his pastor, his child, his servant than he is of the eye, the presence of the Lord.”
- Thomas Brooks, The Privy Key of Heaven.

“Clearly, millions of our neighbors believe that moralism is our message. Nothing less than the boldest preaching of the Gospel will suffice to correct this impression and to lead sinners to salvation in Christ.”
- Albert Mohler, Why Moralism Is Not the Gospel - - And Why So Many Christians Think It Is (from a blog post)

“Our original sinfulness and natural inclination to evil are seldom sufficiently considered. The wickedness of men is often attributed to bad examples, bad company, peculiar temptations, or the snares of the devil. It seems forgotten that every man carries within him a fountain of wickedness. We need no bad company to teach us, and no devil to tempt us, in order to run into sin. We have within us the beginning of every sin under Heaven.”
- J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, 142.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Fear is an enemy to be conquered. This is a central thrust of this book. Fear is something that a Christian doesn’t have to live with and shouldn’t live with. Lucado spends 14 chapters addressing specific areas of fear that the Bible directly addresses. He does this in each chapter by taking specific commands from Jesus to be not afraid or fear not and applying them to our lives.

Lucado has a reputation of being a writer of fluff. I was told as a young Christian that his books would be a big help as a young Christian but I would need to move on to meatier books as I grew. Now there is an element of truth in this, but its not because of Lucado being a fluff artist. Rather it is because his audience is not bible scholars, it is the everyday Christian who is needs a word from the Lord that can be easily digested and applied to their lives. If you come looking for deep intricate theology you won’t find it, he doesn’t mean for us to find it.

But this is also his strength, because in this book he very clearly and accurately diagnoses many areas where Christians struggle with fear. So if fear is a struggle for you, you will find some help here. He addresses fear accurately and memorably. However, I do have a few quibbles.

There should have been more Gospel focus. The Gospel was presented in this book, however it was not consistently shown as the greatest reason to be courageous and have no fear. All the direction given was true and helpful, but it is the Gospel that most banishes fear from our lives. Also there could have been cohesion in the chapters - other than the topic of fear I found no connectivity from one chapter to the next. I guess if you like to bounce around in a book that would be a plus. My last complaint is a minor personal annoyance - why did he have to use a different translation for every Bible quotation. Now he wasn’t at Rick Warren levels, but it did get a little annoying.

Overall, good book, worth reading for new believers, and yes for all of us who struggle with fear.