God’s Glory as the Base of our Courage

This is the eighth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Matt Chandler                                    Key text: Romans 11:33-36

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Those who persecute the faithful think they are serving the cause of justice. As hostility towards Christians increases, we lose the opportunity to explain ourselves. We are automatically characterized as something we are not and this causes us fear. Romans 11 provides a blueprint for increasing courage in our hearts and the hearts of others. Thin portraits of God won’t sustain us like a big, deep theology of God.

Not only is God big, but He is rich: He owns everything in the heavens and the earth. He is no stifled by a lack of resources. This encourages us because we are His sons and daughters. He has our back (Romans 8:31-39)! We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. This has tremendous implications for our courage. Having Christ as our inheritance gives us courage because it helps us put the sufferings of this age in the context of eternity. Everything now will seem worthless and small. We realize there is nothing that man can do to us. Even if we die, we gain eternity with Christ.  Read more of this post

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My Top 5 Books of 2015

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With 2015 coming to a close, it’s time for a roundup of the top books I’ve read this year. For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, just click here. Here are quick reviews of the top 5 books I read in 2015:

  1. God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology by Jim Hamilton
    Too often, Christians spend so much time studying individual portions of Scripture that they unconsciously neglect to treat the Bible as a book with a central theme. Approaching Scripture from a macro perspective is called biblical theology. In God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, Hamilton posits that the theme woven throughout the entire Bible is that God mercifully saves His chosen people through the exercise of His righteous judgment, and in doing so brings glory to Himself. Dr. Hamilton goes book by book through Scripture to demonstrate how it all points to this overarching narrative with the culmination of the narrative being the cross of Christ. The best way to use this book in my opinion is to use this Bible reading plan that will pairs God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgement with a daily Scripture reading. By the end of the year, you’ll have read all the way through both, gaining a deeper appreciation for the Bible itself as well as the indescribable creativity and sovereignty of the Author.

    “Without the Bible’s bad news, its good news will have no meaning.” -Jim Hamilton

  2. Real Christianity by William Wilberforce
    It’s amazing how relevant Wilberforce’s book is for Christians today (in fact, one of the marks of a great writer is the timelessness of their work). In Real Christianity, Wilberforce confronts the dangers of cultural Christianity that claims the name of Christ, but fails to actually follow its doctrines, commands, and precepts. He outlines characteristics of nominal Christians and contrasts their lifestyles and beliefs with those of real Christians, who live their lives in pursuit of holiness. As you read this book, you’ll be convicted to examine your own life to see if you have more in common with the nominal Christian Wilberforce describes or the true Christian described in Scripture.

    “Why is it so hard to get people to study the Scriptures? Common sense tells us what revelation commands: ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’–‘Search the Scriptures’–‘Be ready to give to every one a reason of the hope that is in you.’ These are the words of the inspired writers, and these injunctions are confirmed by praising those who obey the admonition. And yet, for all that we have the Bible in our houses, we are ignorant of its contents. No wonder that so many Christians know so little about what Christ actually taught; no wonder that they are so mistaken about the faith that they profess.” -William Wilberforce

  3. Good to Great by Jim Collins
    Good to Great offers a lot of solid advice for building a great organization, regardless of size or profit/nonprofit status. While many of the concepts are broad in scope and may need some adjustment based on your organization and industry, Collins and his team point out some key factors that result in a transition from a mediocre company to a great one. The book emphasizes that lasting change often takes time, hard work, and intentionality to achieve, even if it looks like an overnight transformation from the outside.

    “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” -Jim Collins

  4. How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaffer
    In How Should We Then Live? Schaeffer does an admirable job of showing the progression of Western thought by showing the impact that worldview has on a culture’s philosophy, art, music, and writing. The main objective of the book is to show the necessity of having a Christocentric foundation in order to live a life that has real meaning and purpose. As Western thought has drifted from that foundation, replacing it with other foundations or removing the foundation all together, culture has tended to decline in general. He ends the book by encouraging people, especially Christians, to actively engage the culture to point out worldview inconsistencies and give a strong defense for the viability of a Christian worldview.

    “There is a flow to history and culture. This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in the thoughts of people. People are unique in the inner life of the mind — what they are in their thought-world determines how they act. This is true of their value systems and it is true of their creativity. It is true of their corporate actions, such as political decisions, and it is true of their personal lives. The results of their thought-world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external world.” -Francis Schaeffer

  5. The Sports Gene by David Epstein
    This is an entertaining read for any sports fan. In the Sports Gene, David Epstein travels the world in search of research that shows the factors that set elite athletes apart from the rest of humanity. Along the way, he tackles topics like genetics, training, diet, race, and “nature vs. nurture.” Epstein is honest in the findings he presents and doesn’t shy away from any potential controversy that comes along with some of these more sensitive areas. In the end, Epstein concludes that there is no single “sports gene”, but that athleticism is a complex combination of internal and external factors that contribute to athletic prowess.

Honorable Mentions

I hope that you find these short reviews helpful and that you’ll take the time to read at least one of these books next year. If you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading now and what I’ve read in the past, check out my Goodreads profile. Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books or do have a book that would recommend reading in 2016? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

BONUS: My Top 5 Books of 2013 || My Top 5 Books of 2014

The Life Worth Living for Christ is a Life Worth Losing

This is the seventh post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: Matt Chandler                                   Key text: Philippians 1:21

Any loss we experience on earth will be viewed as insignificant when we reach our eternal home.

Paul is an example of a violent opponent of the gospel who was made into one of its greatest proponents (Acts 7-8). Paul wasn’t a seeker, but God didn’t care. He wanted him to be His (Galatians 1:15-16). Paul is proof that there is no one beyond God’s saving mercy.

When it comes to missions, we don’t have to go; we get to go. Missionaries are extraordinarily ordinary people. They don’t have any superpowers and they aren’t holier than other Christians.

It brings God pleasure to reveal Himself to us and save us. When God saves you, he doesn’t do it because you gave Him permission to do so. He did it because He’s God.  Read more of this post

The Fulfillment of the Gospel

This is the eighth post with my sermon notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (T4G) that was held from April 10-12 in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from T4G, click here. More sermon notes to come.

Speaker: Matt Chandler                                          Key text: Revelation 21

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video

Hope is necessary for all Christians.

The First Fruits of Hope

The firstfruits of hope have already been sown. Jesus came, died in my place, and rose from the dead to show that my bill is paid. God doesn’t have to invade and own Christians, but he does. There is hope in that. As Graeme Goldsworthy put it, “Hope without a time of fulfillment is delusional.” The gospel will reek of death to some if Christians proclaim truth to its fullness. The Spirit doesn’t lead where the Spirit won’t empower. Sound doctrine without a love for Jesus ceases to be sound doctrine.   Read more of this post

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