Men at Their Dumbest

This is a great short article for young men in their late teens, maybe early 20s, to read.
It's aimed at college-goers, but can apply to others, making the right adjustments.



Review: Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change
Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul David Tripp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Outstanding and helpful.

Tripp is comprehensive and Christ-centered in discussing counseling.
Comprehensive - he covers everything from our radical broken-ness, the heart as the root of behavior, Jesus the one we follow, love as the motive and first step in counseling, understanding people by asking questions, speaking needed rebuke from a Gospel, following through with actions and accountability.

The strength of this book is that it applies equally to those in formal positions of counseling and to every believer with a friend in need. Great illustrations and examples included.

Get this book to make your thoughts and conversations more Christ- and Gospel-shaped.

View all my reviews

Review: Destruction of Jerusalem

Destruction of Jerusalem
Destruction of Jerusalem by L.H. Becker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A condensed retelling of the events of 70AD.

Gruesome, dark, depressing, the work could be seen as very anti-Semitic today. Josephus was looking to show to the Romans how benightedly stubborn his own people were, in the face of Roman power and glory. In my view, this was truly God's judgement on them for continuing to reject their King, Jesus, as they began to do 40 years earlier.

Three little additions to Josephus enhance the book. At the very end, he quotes Jesus in Matthew 23:38 - "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." Becker then exhorts us that if God was willing to judge His own beloved city like this for rejected the Messiah, what a warning for every other city.

Also, when recounting the Zealots giving the starving people the bread and oil from the temple in the last days, Becker critiques Josephus, who thinks this is the worst calamity ever. "That the rejection of their Messiah was a crime a thousandfold greater than the drinking of priestly wine, seems not to have occurred to him."

Finally, the viewpoint of the Zealots: "The misguided Jews, to the last, expected to see these prophecies fulfilled in the person of the conquering Messiah, who would reveal Himself in the darkest hour, wither and annihilate the Roman legions with one word, and then transfer the seat of the empire from Rome to Sion."

There is also a short reference to the Christians fleeing to Pella before the Roman storm and seige hits Jerusalem.

Sadly, these passages are not expanded on at all. The rest of the book is Josephus, straight. If anyone can point me to some decent Christian analysis of these events, beyond the historical, I'd appreciate it.

View all my reviews

Review: Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In what CS Lewis himself said was his favorite work, he retells and adapts a Greek myth to tell Christian truth.

This is not one of his most accessible works. I had the Omnibus text by Veritas Press to help me.

Four-fifths of the book is part one, where the main character Orual, a princess in a pagan land, draws up a complaint against the gods. She doubts the paganism she is raised with, and her Greek tutor tries to instill an atheistic yet virtuous rationalism in her. She half believes it, but clings to her book (what we are reading) and her complaints. Her main complaint is that the gods took her step-sister Psyche away from her.

In part two, Orual gets to read her complaint before the gods, but she sees it for the petty jealousy and craven self-love that it is, even as she reads it. She understands that she was willing to hurt Psyche rather than lose her to something greater (God). Her repentance is giving herself to Psyche, instead of demanding that Psyche be her possession.

This is an amazingly excellent study of jealousy and self-absorption, from the inside of it. The sense of the transcendent (greater beauty and being and joy) at the end is well done.

View all my reviews


Life together - or separate?

Some thought-provoking words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

"Life together under the Word will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society... But rather where it understands itself as being a part of one, holy, catholic, Christian church, where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles and promise of the whole church. Every principle of selection and every separation connected with it that is not necessitated quite objectively by common work, local conditions, or family connections is of the greatest danger to the Christian community. When the way of intellectual or spiritual selection is taken the human element always insinuates itself and robs the fellowship of its spiritual power and effectiveness for the church, drives it into sectarianism."

Life Together, pg 37

Review: Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love

Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love
Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Bridges wants believers to keep living by grace after they trust in the grace of Christ the first time. We are not only justified by God's mercy. We are also sanctified by His grace.

We too often fall into the trap of Galatians 3:3, trying to complete our salvation, to become holy, by our own performance. We want to make it up to God, or we want to obligate Him to favor us by our good behavior.

We can also forget what grace is for: to change us into holy, free and obedient people of God. Bridges keeps us from abusing God's grace with license and anti-nomianism, as much as he warns against legalism.

Bridges ends with how to appropriate, or take possession of, God's grace, focusing on the private means of grace: Scripture reading and memorization, prayer, and the ministry of other believers.

Throughout the book, Bridges quotes Scripture often and to the point. A strength of the book is illustrations that clarify and apply his points.

The main weakness is that there is little about the public means of grace or the church. Even the section on the ministry of other believers omits this.

A highly recommended book for any growing Christian.

View all my reviews


Trampling out the Vintage

Fascinating article here by Timothy George, on the In Christ Alone song controversy.

He gets in depth theologically on the propitiation of God's wrath.

AND he quotes the Battle Hymn of the Republic positively in this context.

We need the doctrine of the wrath and justice of God in the face of injustice.

The true Vine

In reading a retelling of Josephus' account of the fall of Jerusalem, I came across something first hand that I've been looking for since I heard it from Ray VanderLaan first, years ago.

Over the Golden Gate of the temple, going from the court into the temple itself, was a celebrated golden vine. Josephus: "Like a true natural vine, it grew gater and greater; men would be offering gold, some to make a leaf; some, a grape; some, a bunch; and these were hung upon it, and so it was in reign continually."

Now consider John 14-17 in this context. The last verse of John 14, Jesus says, "Rise, let us go from here," meaning from the upper room. In 18:1, He goes out and crosses the Kidron to Gethsemane.

So where was Jesus while speaking John 15-17?  I would submit that He was in the temple.

Standing before the golden temple vine, which Israelites enlarged with their offerings, Jesus used it as a type to point to Himself.  HE is the real vine, and it will grow and bear fruit as we stay in HIM. Not in the temple, but in Jesus.

He speaks of another helper who will come, and when He comes at Pentecost they are in the temple. The Spirit dwells in us, the new temple of God.

He prays a great high priestly prayer. Where do priests pray? In the temple.
His prayer for unity, that the world may know God, parallels Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple. The church is a temple being built (Ephesians 2:21).

Then He goes out to be pressed in the olive press of Gethsemane, complete with sweat like drops of blood. The vine is giving forth juice/wine/blood already.

The historical context of Scripture really makes the Word sing, harmonizing beautifully with itself.


Mindful of Us

When you consider the grain and the grapes that God grew to display His grace here, what are we, that the Lord remembers us?

God is mindful of man, visiting him, Ps 8:4 says. God was mindful first of the Son of Man, His Son. He equipped Him with the Spirit to go all the way to the cross. Then God visited Him, raised Him up, restored Him from the grave. God remembered Jesus and God remembers you.

The word mindful is remember, the same as when Jesus says to eat and drink this bread and wine in remembrance of Him. God is mindful of you, so He sends Jesus to restore us from our toppled over state. He sets us upright, at His table. He sets up a memorial to the Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate man, the son of man.


God's GPS

Prov 5:5-8
Solomon warns his son of the immoral woman. We like to think that the world offers us pleasures that we can grab out of thin air, with little harm coming from it. But in reality, when God says those pleasures are off limits, then they are a path leading to death and hell. We don’t take sinful pleasure to ourselves. That sin takes us to it, and draws us along its path. You’re going somewhere, and it’s unstable. If God feels far away, one reason could be that you’ve gone down the path of sin so far, you don’t see Him anymore. Wisdom calls us back. Don’t depart from her. You need to change your location. Don’t stand near sin or ponder its ways, wishing for things you haven’t been given. Take out your GPS – God’s Positioning System – and recalculate where you should be. Move away from the danger. Move tempting things away from you.