M. Ashley Evans

About M. Ashley Evans

Ashley's Blog
She is from a beautiful, small, rural town in northeast Alabama and now resides in northwest Georgia. Ashley married her best friend, John, and they have two lovely girls: Emma, and Faith. They are active members in their Southern Baptist church. She is enthusiastically pursuing sanctification in roles as a wife, mother, and homemaker. Her interests include writing, art, engraving, and shooting sports. Further interests include reformed theology, complementarian marriage, home-schooling, music, homesteading, studying Asperger's, and natural health. Ashley graduated from Trinity College of Natural Health with a Master Herbalist degree. Blog

The New Calvinism Book Review

The New Calvinism Book Review

The New Calvinism

by Conrad Mbewe, John Buice, Paul Washer, Steven J. Lawson, Tim Challies
Length: Approximately 4 hours. To read (127 pages)
TCB Rating:
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

“Will the New Calvinism last?” A focus on sola Scriptura, ecclesiology and commitment to the local church, pursuit of holiness, the work of the Holy Spirit in ministry and living, and a call to biblical discernment: without these things New Calvinism is just a fad.

Who should read this?

This book is written not only for the members of the Reformed/New Calvinism movement but for anyone who is wondering what this movement is about. How is the caricature of the bearded pastor with a cigar and tattoos not just some fleeting church fad? Is there any depth and truth to the movement? What are the goals and standards in New Calvinism? What are the dangers this movement faces?

Will the New Calvinism last? ...sola Scriptura, ecclesiology & the local church, pursuit of holiness, the Holy Spirit in ministry & living, & biblical discernment: without these things New Calvinism is just a fad. Click To Tweet


The book opens with a clear cut introduction chapter that shouldn’t be missed.  It frames the setup for the book, noting that this resurgence of Calvinism includes the following: 1) inerrancy of Scripture, 2) authority of Scripture, 3) high view of God, and 4) global missions.  This modern resurgence mirrors so much of the Reformation – people are being driven to a pursuit of holiness with a bold and unwavering resolve to support the sole authority and inerrancy of the Scriptures.

“When Christ rules a person’s heart, holiness is a byproduct. The public behavior that demonstrates a loose tongue along with other immature behavioral characteristics does not display a heart that is under submission.”

The echoing question amongst the New Calvinists is – will this movement last?  This book discusses the problems facing New Calvinism and what the movements focus should stay at, if it is to last.  Dr. Josh Buice does an excellent job at editing the material. He wrote the introduction and the first chapter. Other authors each contributed a chapter.  The authors include Paul Washer, Dr. Steven J. Lawson, Dr. Conrad Mbewe, and Tim Challies.

Sola Scriptura is the heart and soul of the Reformation. “If the scriptures are not trustworthy, how can we know the truth of our human depravity, the glory of Jesus’ substitutionary death, and the amazing grace of God granted to depraved sinners?”  Today, you can witness hundreds of enthusiastic believers attending conferences all over the US – hungry for Scripture and for sound doctrine.  And praise the Lord for it! But even amidst this, lurk pastors who have fallen prey to the slippery slope of pragmatism, the charming allure of mysticism, cultural trendiness as a means of evangelism, and other fallacies.  

“The world will never think the gospel is cool. If the New Calvinism movement is indeed a new reformation, the people who make up this movement must stop accommodating their culture and boldly preach the Scriptures.  The Gospel will never be palatable to depraved sinners apart from a spiritual resurrection performed by God. As we study the world of God in conversion, we must admit that the church’s cultural trends are not what brought a person to a saving knowledge of the gospel.”  If our battle cry of Sola Scriptura is indeed the heart and soul of New Calvinism – then we must remember that doctrine matters!! – if we let this slip, the church suffers greatly.  

The health of the church is always connected to the health of the pulpit.  If men who stand in the pulpit are ashamed to preach the Word, their disciples will likewise learn to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Being Reformed is not simply being a Calvinist – its embracing Sola Scriptura and applying it to every aspect of one’s life and faith.

The danger in conferences is that many of the immature believers will have more preference for them over their local church. Conferences are amazing – it’s such a blessing to get to attend, to fellowship with so many likeminded brothers and sisters.  It’s encouraging to get to see our heroes in the faith – and maybe even snap a selfie with them. It’s spiritually refreshing; a spa day for your soul. But it cannot be held in higher esteem than your own church. Serving enthusiastically in your local church is paramount.   “If we are not committed to a local congregation of believers we are not walking in the center of God’s will.”  

This concept is seen in Hebrews 10:24-25 ‘and let us consider how to stimulate one another in love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.’  

“The key word here is ‘committed’.  The command is not fulfilled by mere attendance but by our active participation in the growth and sanctification of the body.  We should never think that we are doing God’s will simply because we attend a church with sound theology and expository preaching and are frequently involved in theological conversations with our peers.  We are committed when we are actually ministering in the church under the direction of the elders who for the sake of the least of Christ’s brethren, even those who do not share our interests in high theological dialog, but are simply struggling to make it down the road to Zion.  If we do not love the most broken, needy, and theologically inept brethren in the local church, then our love for the church and for Christ Himself is in question.”

Purity is essential.  Scriptures abound in direct commands to stay pure. While salvation is monergistic, sanctification is synergistic. We do have a responsibility. Colossians 3:2 tells us to keep our mind pure by setting them on things above.  Ephesians 6:16 says to keep our heart pure we have to resist the flaming arrow of the evil one. 1 Peter 2:11 says we strive to keep our souls pure from lusts of the flesh.

“Our innermost being must be driven by the desire to know God and follow Christ by the power of the spirit.  Every Christian must cultivate his own spiritual life before God in order to bring Him glory.” Many people reject the concept of holiness because it sounds too legalistic. But the pursuit of personal holiness is nothing like legalism – which separates the grace of God from the law of God.

When we isolate divine grace from divine law, we fail to see the infinite love of God that stands behind the commands He issues. When this unbiblical divorce takes place, we view His commands as burdensome, too heavy to bear.” Some people oppose legalism to such an extreme that they take their “Christian liberties” too far and have caused damage.

Purity starts with our minds being prepared for serving the Lord.  We must keep our minds pure from the worldly influence. “There can be no loose thinking that is disconnected from the whole truth of scripture. Neither can there be any doctrines neglected. Nor must there be any worldly beliefs allowed to infiltrate our minds. We must master the whole truth of Scripture, and its whole truth, must master us.” We have to be in total control of our minds, not inebriated or emotionally unstable.  

We must have sound judgment and a submissive, obedient heart. This growth in holiness is centrally focused on the expectant Hope in the return of Christ. One aspect of the Holy Spirit is His goal of conforming us into the image of Christ. He empowers us to serve Him with a joyful heart.  Personal holiness is an act of spiritual empowerment.


I thought the book was excellent – quite emboldening.  It’s not a light read – but one that you want to savor slowly and meditate upon.  It was encouraging in that this book provides a sense of unity to the centrality of the New Calvinism movement.  There are so many variations to the movement that it is crucial that we understand what it IS and ISN’T. This book did an excellent job in describing just that.

I would highly recommend this book to pastors who are not Calvinists – simply because there is so much misinformation out there about Calvinism and this could shed some light on the issue. The book could also encourage them, likewise, to focus on sola Scriptura, commitment to the local church, pursuit of Holiness, Holy Spirit empowerment in ministry, and biblical discernment.

The only negative thing I can say is that I had a bit of trouble following some parts of the chapter that Dr. Conrad Mbewe wrote on the Holy Spirit empowerment.  It is a subject that is crucial to study and to have a firm grasp on in this age of counterfeit prosperity gospels. And perhaps it was just his style of writing, or that there is a need for multiple book volumes to cover it as deeply as is required of the content?   I have heard him speak in person and thoroughly enjoy his material – but this chapter was a little hard to follow his train of thought.


This book is vital for all Reformed believers to read.  We must remain focused on the centrality of Scripture – and not get lost in the charismatic mysticism, the “hip” churches that focus on emotional enticement, non-essential ministries, etc.

“When our culture laughs at our gospel, we must not apologize, dumb down, or so contextualize the gospel the offense of the cross is veiled from the eyes of sinful men.  We must do the work of discipleship, apologetics, evangelism, missions, and gospel preaching with the confidence that God’s Word is our authority and as ambassadors of the King – we will not remain silent.  The battle cry of the Reformation was sola Scriptura. May it be said of us that we are people of the Book – unflinching on the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of God’s Word. The battle over the Bible continues today, will you be found faithful?”


  • Page 31 – “When pragmatism overshadows theology, the end result will be compromise.  The need of the hour is for our orthopraxy to match our orthodoxy. When pastors capitulate on sola Scriptura, the entire church suffers.  This methodological shift will affect everyone from the children to the senior adults.  We are guilty of creating functional atheism when we distance ourselves from the authority and reliability of God’s Word.  New Calvinists are not being confused with theological liberals by any stretch, but the cultural pressures to lighten up and avoid taking the Bible to seriously are perpetually present – even among the New Calvinism movement.   All true preachers of God’s Word feel a certain pressure to avoid being too preachy.  Meanwhile, liberals are awaiting children from evangelicals’ churches, and with open arms they receive a new crop of them onto the university campuses each fall.  Once these students are isolated from their homes and their local churches, professors go on immediate attack against the authority of God’s Word. Much like Satan in the Garden of Eden, they arrogantly cast doubt upon the reliability of God’s Word.”
  • Page 64 – “The local church will in some measure take upon itself the doctrine, character, and piety of its ministers – for good or evil. We should pray that our influence over the church would increase only to the degree that we increase in fear of the Lord and in submission to what is written in His Word.  Let there be no soiled rag of flesh on our bodies and nothing of our own cleverness in our mouths, for as ministers we do have influence, and as ministers we will be called to give an account before the throne of the living God with regard to how we have cared for His most precious possession! How then can we know how to conduct ourselves in our care of God’s household?  It is only through what is written in His Word. It is only under the infallible guidance of sola Scriptura. Paul wrote to Timothy ‘I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God.’  Therefore, the more closely we submit ourselves to what is written, the clearer our conscience will be, and the more confidence we will possess.  Consequently, the more we stray from the direct commands of Scripture and give ourselves to our own inventions, the more we open ourselves to Christ’s reprimand.”
  • Page 66 – “… let me remind you of two unalterable truths, whose interpretation are not open to debate.  The first is that we will be judged, and for some ministers, this will result in the loss of everything except our souls.  The second is that the only infallible standard by which we are to guide our conduct in the church is the written Word of God.  The further we stray from it, and the more we take away from it or add to it, the less confidence we can have that we will pass through judgment unscathed.”
  • Page 73 – “… there is more teaching in Scripture regarding how one is to live the Christian life than how one is to become a Christian. … God is, first and foremost, more concerned with what He is doing in us than with what He is doing through us.  He is fundamentally concerned with our godliness before He is with our giftedness.  He is of first importance, more interested in our spirituality than in our productivity.  This is to say, God is principally focused upon the depth of our maturity before the breadth of our ministry.”
  • Page 80 – “Being glib in preaching is valued over having gravitas. I believe it can be shown that this casual thinking about God has led to the new casual worship of God.  Moreover, the pulpit is more a dialogue than a declaration. A heavy dose of being sober in spirit is much needed medicine today.”
  • Page 101 – “The historic reformed position took it for granted that the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit – such as speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, miraculous healing, etc – had ceased with the passing on of the apostles in Bibles times.  Notice that this does not mean God cannot do something extraordinary or miraculous, especially in answer to the prayer of God’s people. He is God! He can do all things. Rather this refers to the cessation of the gifts being embodied in individuals so that they are empowered to do the extraordinary in an ongoing way as was the case with the apostles.  So any seeking of spiritual empowerment that suggests the restoration of such gifts must be biblically misinformed.”
  • Page 115 – “This enthusiasm for sound doctrine is a mark of Gods favor and blessing.  The inadequacy of the church growth movement is directly related to its inadequate theology and the failure of the Emerging Church was inevitable because of its failure to embrace sound doctrine. New Calvinism, though, is built upon the firm foundation of the historic doctrine of the Christian faith.  God has awakened people who for far too long have been content with poor theology and I am convinced that He will use these now awakened Christians to approach the world with missionary fervor.”
By | 2018-03-13T14:18:27+00:00 March 13th, 2018|0 Comments

Committing Our Ways Book Review

Committing Our Ways Book Review

Committing Our Ways

by Allyson Underwood, Melissa Longoria, Meredith Moore
Length: 2 hours. To read (59 pages)
TCB Rating:
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

This book gives a profound biblical view of seeking contentment. Even though the authors are writing from a perspective of singleness, it is a gem of a book with so much to offer women in all seasons of life: single, married, widowed etc.

Committing Our Ways Book Review 1


This book gives a profound biblical view of seeking contentment. Though the authors are writing from a perspective of singleness, it is a gem of a book with so much to offer women in all seasons of life: single, married, widowed… Click To Tweet


There are a great many books written for women that are, well …. fluff.  It was refreshing to read a book filled with biblical truths instead of just trying to pacify women in their current situation.  Many books on singleness or on finding contentment in a less than ideal situation are filled with scripture twisting promises, and give the reader a false hope – and worse – a false view of God and His holiness.  

Imagine, sitting on a porch swing on a cool morning, wrapped in a quilt, hot coffee in hand and having a good heart to heart with one of your best friends – that’s the way this book reads. The authors are so down to earth. Each author wrote a handful of chapters, and have personal stories intertwined, so it really reads like a conversation.

I found myself smiling at their heartfelt stories and wincing at the sometimes painful truth (though spoken in love.) Contentment is an area that everyone struggles with. How easy it is to feel disgruntled in a situation – all because God didn’t form the circumstances exactly as we think is best. Oh the audacity that we ever are discontented and assume that we know better than our Creator!

A lack of contentment breeds hopelessness and depression. There is true joy in contentment – and the joy the authors have is so inspiring. I have never read a book that made me feel as if the authors have prayed for their readers and even love them, simply because they are sisters in Christ – until now.

This book is a must-read for every Christian woman.  It can speak into the life of a single woman struggling to find her place in life; to the young mother struggling to survive the chaos of toddlerhood; and even to the woman who is struggling to find meaning in the “empty nest”, because, at its core, this book is about contentment.

“Contentment does not mean pretending to be perfectly happy with one’s circumstances.  Nor is it some sort of passive, fatalistic regard for life’s trajectory.  True contentment is much more robust and God-centered than a Pollyanna outlook.  It begins with an honest assessment of one’s true feelings, but moves swiftly to reconcile those feelings with the absolute truth of God’s character.  When life seems unfair, I must remember that the God who is in control of it cannot be anything but fair.  When life seems harsh or too much to bear, I must remember that the God who orders it cannot be unloving or unkind.  Ultimately, contentment is characterized by an attitude of submission to the One who might sovereignly orchestrate events in my life in a different way than I would choose for myself.  But you know what?  He is good, and I can trust Him with my desires, whether for marriage or anything else.” Pg 25.

I love that you can hear their heart with each chapter, they each had goals and dreams… and life hasn’t turned out quite like they had planned.  “As 30 nears, I think I am beginning to understand.  Dreams die a slow death.  The hurts and disillusionments of other people add insult to injury.  Change itself is excruciating.  These things can turn us into someone quite hard, ugly, and unloving over time.  The anecdote to bitterness?  Getting our eyes off of others, and onto a hope for eternity that does not fade and a Christ that does not disappoint.” Pg 37

  They are taking you on a journey of what they have learned about identity, the surety of God’s Word, trusting God, how to wait well, true friendship, the importance of community, fears, and God’s promises. The boldness in this quote is so encouraging to me: “So are we still single?  God be glorified in our contentment.  We still do not have our dream job?  God be glorified in our acceptance.  Our future dreams have not come to fruition?  God be glorified in the new dreams He has given us.  Let us learn to enjoy our life.  Enjoy our season.  Be content.  Be bold.  Make a difference.  And ultimately, trust God.” Pg 54.


My only critique of this book is:

1) Of the use of a John Eldredge quote on pg 21.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely quote – but John Eldredge teaches some heretical doctrine, such as open theism, and I wouldn’t want to steer anyone in his direction. (For more information on why his teachings are heretical go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3-EFXObuD0 and here: https://www.challies.com/general-news/john-eldredge/ )  

2) I wish it was longer. It is not that the book felt like there was so much left unsaid, but it left me yearning for the conversation to continue.  It was much in the way it is bittersweet when a cherished friend has to leave after a good visit. (Obviously, contentment is something I am still working on!)




“My singleness happens to be the thing that has driven me to the Bible like nothing else, time and again, for answers to my questions about identity, purpose, and many other perplexing issues besides. God’s Word anchors my soul like nothing else can.  It is through His Word alone that God reveals who He is.  It is there that my perspective is transformed.  It is there that I learn of hope that I have in Christ and understand who I am in Him.  It is there that I can learn of God’s ways. It is there that I am reminded that ultimately; this is His story, not mine.

“Does the reading, study, and memorization of the Bible seem like a daunting task to you? Dear friend, if you glean nothing else from this little book, please heed the encouragement to pursue God through His Word.  In this ever-changing world we live in, it is ever so important to know the foundation on which you stand.  Only when your roots are planted deeply, and are growing deeper still, can you stand strong against the “dangers, toils, and snares” that you will face.  May we hunger and thirst after the life-giving Word, and may we yield ourselves to the transformation it brings.” – pg 15

Contentment is something that I have struggled with in my own life. I write out my daily ‘To Do List’ and a large portion remains undone at the end of the day, regardless of how hard I tried. I have mapped out my life goals in detail and have even drawn out the blueprint for my dream house – yet I find myself struggling to find a way to make it all happen.

Far too often I find myself in the depths of despair simply because I can’t do it all. It’s hard finding balance between being a wife, a mother, a family member, a church member, getting prepped to homeschool a pre-schooler, trying to learn a trade, finding time to finish my work, plan and cook meals, clean the house, run errands, take my daughter to multiple therapy appointments, supporting my husband as he starts his second year in seminary – there is so much to do, and precious little time. My ‘To Do List’, as helpful as it is, can easily be a gateway into depressing and anxious discontentment.

My plans are “good” but quickly become a sin issue. For example, I plan on my family sitting around the table feasting on a very healthy meal, but my oldest has Asperger’s and her food sensory issues are rather extreme. She eats precious little in way of variety and very few of her foods are reasonably healthy (unfortunately.) When my good plan, my desire for her to eat a healthy meal elevates from a desire to a need, then it becomes idolatry.  Idolatry is at the very root of discontentment.

God wants me to be obedient in how I mother my children – I need to give her healthy food, encourage her, foster an environment where she develops the security and courage to step out of her boundaries and try different things. I don’t need her to fit into my agenda. I need to be content in that God is in charge of her sensory issues – not me. She will mature and learn coping skills in His timing and to the degree that He sees best. His best brings Glory to His Name and brings us to further sanctification.  And this book has helped me to see that by remembering that God has Providentially placed me in this situation, for my good & His Glory, I will find rest, joy, and contentment.



“Friends, our prayer is that you would see blessings and marriages and dream jobs and fulfilling lives.  Indeed, we hope that for ourselves.  But if not, He is still good (Daniel 3). Because God is still in control, because Jesus’ blood still redeems sinners, because the Comforter is still with us, He is still good.  Let us exclaim with the psalmist: ‘I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.’ (Psalm 34:1 KJV).” 

It doesn’t end quite there – almost – the authors have compiled a forty-something-long list of resources. These resources are books and radio programs that have been influential on their journey.  These books are theologically sound, some I have read and a great many I am familiar with and have bumped up on my wish list.  But even that is a wonderful reminder that our journey of sanctification really doesn’t have an “End Point” on this side of Glory.  And we can praise God in that – that His work of sanctifying us is progressive.  We don’t have to be perfect right now – in fact, we can’t be.  We can trust Him to gently guide us along as we seek Him.

By | 2018-02-06T12:03:24+00:00 February 10th, 2018|4 Comments


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