Wesley Lassiter

About Wesley Lassiter

Wesley's Blog
My name is Wesley Lassiter. I live in Meansville, GA. I am the Director of Youth at Meansville Baptist Church. I am also a student at MBTS College. I blog at wesleylassiter.wordpress.com.



What Does Your Heart Say?

“I can throw a football over them mountains.” We all have had, or do have, those friends who live in the “glory days.” As you begin to read about pride and humility you may have someone come to mind.

The fact is, we all struggle with pride that is rooted deep but may come from different soils. Your soil may be lack of self-worth, arrogance, fear, or inadequacies. In Scripture, however, we are to turn from self-pride to a humble boasting of God and His work.

What Does Your Heart Say

Pride vs. Pride

The prideful heart seeks to elevate our self above those around us in order that we may receive honor. In his book Humility, C. J. Mahaney, defines pride as being, “when sinful beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him.” Many of us recognize that we are prideful by nature, albeit we sometimes try to spiritualize our pride.

The Gospel of Mark gives an example of what this looks like when we try to purify our pride. In Mark 10:35-45, James and John ask Jesus to give them thrones on either side of Him. The questioned posed by these disciples displays their lack of comprehension about the Kingdom of God. In the same manner, we create cultures in which the holinization of pride occurs. Jesus makes clear to the disciples, the character of those in God’s Kingdom should be one of a servant and not of a ruler.

Pride arises in our heart for many reasons and yet we must attack each one of them. The most evident form of pride comes from a character placing themselves in the position of God. Pride does not always come from overconfidence and heightened self-worth. The opposite is also found when a lack of self-worth and inadequacies create self-doubt. This temptation begins to create a proud heart in order that we may be accepted by peers, fit in with our surroundings, or even feel worthy before God. Analyzing the root of our pride will inform us to seek out the right counsel in making war against our pride.

The danger we create in the church without recognizing the difference between these two is never equipping each other to attack pride in the right way. The most common tactic is a shame culture. We create this idea that we should all be thinking less of ourselves. While some may need this type of attack, this is not the most biblical model. Those who over compensate their low self-esteem and inadequacies with a shame culture will never see freedom from the root of their sinful problem. The root of the issue needs to be recognizing the pride we are to take in being children of God. In Paul’s letters, we find out that we are “dead in the trespasses and sins”, “children of wrath”, “alienated”, and “hostile in mind”.

However, he goes on to say we are “fellow citizens with the saints”, “members of the household of God”, “holy”, and “made alive” if we are found in Jesus.

 

Humility

The way in which pride is to be attacked is maintaining the right understanding of humility. Scripture does speak of battles with pride in a way in which the Gnostics would deal with the flesh. Rather, we understand pride in the right manner and with the right lens. The goal of humility is not to create shame but to give glory.

Humility is found in pointing others toward the character of God not by demeaning your own character. I would like to use the definition structure of Mahaney’s characteristic of pride to define humility as: “When sinful beings acknowledge the status and position of God and aspire to show the world their dependence upon Him.” In order to counteract the shame culture that seems to be prevalent when fighting pride, we must place a high value on our new standing before God in Christ. We do not give honor to God when we eliminate self-worth. True humility is a right placing of God, not a lower view of self.

 

Humble Boasting

There is much for us to boast in and yet, we must realize we are not the source of this boasting. The work of Jesus in becoming man and living the life that we could not gives every ounce of boasting to God. We show the world much joy when we boast in Jesus and what He has done for us to give us this boasting. Pride is a beautiful characteristic in the Christian as long as that pride is founded and pointing to Jesus. We give God glory by basking in our redeemed self that He gave in order for us to have eternal worth. May we praise God through recognizing the glory found in us and the opportunity to show the world that the glory is salvation through the cross. May Jeremiah 9:23-24 be our boasting:

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in the wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

By | 2018-04-28T04:08:34+00:00 May 1st, 2018|

Joy to the Angry

Hole in the wall. Broken fence panels. Gallons of tears. Fractured relationships. All of these are examples of growing up in anger.

I wanted to blame everyone but myself. People drove me to anger. Others fueled my anger. While even more seemed not to care. I was missing the root of all my anger which was ultimately found in my heart. I was wrong in thinking that the opposite of anger was happiness when instead it is the joy found in Jesus.

Joy to the Angry

Anger

Recently, I had a conversation with a couple of guys about the difference between anger, happiness, and joy. We began to list characteristics or outcomes under each of the three terms. Anger lingers with a burden that leaves us feeling in a shadow. Growing up I was not the kid who was angry all the time. As a matter of fact, I was a happy kid most of the time. The failure on my part was that I allowed small frustrations build and I meditated on the small things I didn’t like someone had said. The building of frustrations and the meditating on my heart was the issue that would cause the Hulk to take over.

The issue for the believer comes when we live as if happiness is the opposite of anger. Under the term happiness we found two striking things come to mind that we wrote down. Happiness can be present with anger and happiness can be present with sin. I am not saying that happiness is sinful but I am saying happiness is not far enough away from anger. Happiness is not our greatest fulfillment and achievement. If this were true what would that mean about Jesus when we suffer or deal with a hard time in life? In the absence of happiness how do we show the world Jesus is just as much, if not more, sufficient. I realized that my anger was rooted in selfishness and lack of joy in Jesus.

 

Joy

While making the list, we made two different categories of anger. There is sinful anger and there is righteous anger. Under righteous anger we begin to find the joy that is found in Jesus. We must take in balance the doctrine of God’s wrath. In Genesis 1 we find an outpouring of love in creating man and woman in the image of God. In a survey of Scripture, we find the beginnings of God’s wrath found in the casting out of Lucifer from heaven and the punishment for mankind sinning. While we deserve the wrath of God because of our sins (Romans 3:23) the wrath is deserved because of our sin and not because of our being.

The difference is that if God poured His wrath on us because of our being then He would have no desire to save mankind. However, God’s wrath and righteous anger is rooted in sin and since we have sinned we deserve that wrath. God is in the business of not whipping out people but instead of whipping out sin. Righteous anger is aimed at sin, false gospels, and spiritual warfare. Paul uses the language of war and armor when talking about combating the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-20).

The hope of the Gospel is that those who once deserved God’s wrath have been saved from it and have joy in its place. The work of Jesus is restoring the joy that was stolen from us by sin. The opposite of anger is not happiness but instead it is joy. The opposite of God’s wrath is God’s love which brings us eternal satisfaction and joy. The psalmists speak of this satisfaction saying:

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Psalm 17:15

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!

Psalm 22:26

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

Psalm 63:5

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!

Psalm 65:4

God’s people have their anger replaced with joy. We must recognize the love of God in that Jesus Himself came down and joyfully gave His life in order that joy may be restored to ours. He felt pain, He hungered, He showed righteous anger, He was not always happy but the salvation of the people of God brought great joy to the Godhead. May we replace our anger with joy that is eternal and not happiness which is temporal.

May we never stop learning the depth of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice for the restoration of our eternal joy. May we remember during this season of the year that the Great Commission is that we would sing from our hearts to the lost, “Joy to the World the Lord is come; let earth receive her King!”

By | 2018-04-28T00:53:21+00:00 April 29th, 2018|

11 Podcasts to Challenge and Encourage Your Faith and Ministry

I love books! I often point people to great books and love giving out great books. While this is true, I also find times of life that are hard to sit down and read all the books I want to read. Thank goodness for technology! I decided to start looking for podcasts that would teach me, encourage me, and edify me. I have greatly benefited from listening to these podcasts while driving, writing, during work breaks, and many more impromptu openings.

I decided I would share a list of my favorite/most listened to podcasts. These are mixtures of sermons, group discussions, interviews, and more. I hope you are encouraged by these and would encourage you to comment with any recommendations you may have also.

10 Podcasts to Challenge and Encourage Your Faith and Ministry

 

1.Help Me Teach the Bible (TGC)

I have long loved this podcast by The Gospel Coalition. Nancy Guthrie is a great model of being a student of the Word. In this podcast, she sits down with pastors and talks through a book of the Bible of a theme within the Bible. She finds a pastor or leader who is faithful to preaching and teaching God’s Word. Typically, this pastor has just recently preached through the book and she asks questions about how to teach the book faithfully and pastorally. In the discussion, they will walk through the whole book and help us to rightly understand the whole context. I encourage you if you are in ministry or if you are just wanting to study through a certain book of the Bible to listen to this podcast.

Favorite – Sam Storms on Hebrews

 

2.For the Church Podcast (MBTS)

I may be partially biased because I am a student at MBTS. However, I am also biased because I would like to think I know good podcasts when I hear them. Hosted by Jared Wilson, this podcast has been helpful in discussing current and long standing issues found in the local church. Jared sits down with pastors and leaders who have great wisdom and knowledge to help think through issues in the local church. Give this podcast a listen if you are thinking about going into ministry, just getting started in ministry, or have been in ministry for a long time. This podcast is full of helpful discussion.

Favorite – Episode 24 – Costi Hinn

 

3.Knowing Faith (The Village Church)

I love the ministry of The Village Church. I also love the leaders and the immense wisdom they give in faithfully ministering and humbling learning. While a good Matt Chandler sermon is exciting, I deeply enjoy the trio (Jen Wilkin, JT English, and Kyle Worley) in this podcast with their humorous dialogue and helpful discussion. This podcast is widely helpful to anyone who wants to learn more about Scripture. They have great topics that teach and encourage. There are many episodes that attack hard topics and verses in Scripture. There are other episodes that speak to common themes of Scripture and they shed light on a deeper understanding of these topics. The trio will encourage you, make you laugh, teach you how to disagree in places, and teach you how to encourage others while discussing theology. You will also begin feeling less scared of the word theology because of their helpful dialogue.

Favorite – Brothers & Sisters: Can We Do Theology Together?

 

4.Immanuel Nashville

Ray Ortlund is by far my favorite living preacher. I highly encourage you to listen to these sermons that are given at Immanuel Church. The main teaching elders are Ray Ortlund and T. J. Tims who are faithful expositors and great shepherds. If Ray Ortlund reads this my one request is for him to record himself reading all of Scripture so I can buy that audio version of the Bible (you will agree with me once you listen). Listen to these sermons and be confronted by a big God theology. Listen but don’t replace from sitting under your local churches preaching.

Favorite – Alive to God: Genesis 1

 

5.United? We pray

I am still pretty new to this podcast and trying to catch up from the past season. However, Isaac Adam and Trillia Newbell are the best hosts by far in all these podcasts. I would love to spend an afternoon with these two because I would feel so encouraged and edified. This podcast is aimed toward discussing the issues surrounding racial reconciliation and the local church. The welcome a wide range of guests who speak to different aspects of race issues and the local church. I have been challenged, heart broken, encouraged, and hopeful through these discussions. Within each episode is a faithfulness to the Gospel and a tone of care for God’s Kingdom. Most importantly to this podcast is that they PRAY to end the podcast. You must listen to this!

Favorite – Deep Demons: Race & The Church (w/ Ray Ortlund)

 

6.Doctrine and Devotion

Do you like bantering and good theology? You have arrived at your perfect podcast. Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler, or JOFO, will teach you and make you roll your eyes. Listeners are welcomed into their bromance while they help walk through practical and theological aspects of the local church. They are proudly Reformed Baptists (it’s even inked on them so hopefully they don’t shift too much in their theology) who speak to theology, training, current issues, and even listener questions/emails. The bantering is like no other. The theology is deep. The content is often very helpful. I encourage you to listen to this podcast even if you do not exactly line up or typically don’t listen to bantering for fun.

Favorite – Baptism and Communion with Erick Mason (2 different episodes)

 

7.Home Row: A Podcast with Writers on Writing

I am throwing a curveball into this list by including a podcast on writing. However, many of the episodes are speaking to those who are Christians that write, often Christian material, hosted by J. A. Medders, who is a pastor. If you aspire to grow in writing or just would like to hear how the authors write the material you read, give this a listen. Many great guests on the podcast and a lot of helpful material to challenge you in your writing.

Favorite – Life in the Wild as a Writer with Dan Dewitt

 

8.Pastor’s Talk (9Marks)

My understanding of the local church has been immensely helped through the ministry of 9 Marks. In this podcast, Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever have discussion on the marks of a healthy church and other topics surrounding the pastor and the church. Occasionally guests are welcomed on to speak about new books that are helpful or pastors who are faithful. Many of the episodes are practical discussions around ordinary local church topics. You will learn about Capital Hill Baptist Church’s process for elder’s meetings, discipleship, worship through song, prayer, conversion, and many more. Pastors will also enjoy listening to find encouragement when things are not going well and knowledge from those who have had success. Either way this podcast is good for future pastors, current pastors, church leaders, or anyone who is serious about the local church and the Bible.

Favorite – Episode 46: On Biblical Theology

 

9.The City of God Podcast (MBTS)

Hosted by Owen Strachan, this podcast helps understand how Christians are to think and speak in public theology. Coming out of the Center for Public Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Strachan is a respected scholar who unashamedly and graciously confronts the culture around us with the Bible.

Many of the episodes come from current events and topics that need to be addressed from a biblical worldview. Dr. Strachan helps us to see why the biblical worldview must be true and how to interact with those from a different worldview. The wide range of subjects express the breadth of knowledge that is given in this podcast. Are you interested in how history, rap, ESPN, Rob Bell, Billy Graham, and atonement could fit into one podcast? Start listening and you will be greatly helped to share your faith in the counter-biblical world around us.

Favorite – Art, Rap, and Excellence: A Conversation with Beautiful Eulogy

 

10.Word Matters

The beauty in this podcast is the simplicity amidst complex topics. Trevin Was and Brandon Smith take a hard or, seemingly, obscure passage in Scripture and explain it to the listener. They have discussed the 144,000, Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the Nephilim, submission of the Son to the Father, genocide, and many more topics. If any of these interest you then you will greatly appreciate the discussion from these two hosts. Occasionally they welcome a guest to weigh in on the issue. They are okay with disagreeing with each other. Smith and Wax will question each other’s view point. This podcast is encouraging and challenging. You will learn and feel more confident while reading some of these passages.

Favorite – Did Jesus empty himself of divinity?

 

11.Preaching and Preachers (MBTS)

I am not even sorry about having all three of MBTS’ podcasts on this list – they are that good! Hosted by the president of the seminary, Jason Allen, this podcast is geared toward pastors and preachers. The episodes welcome a new guest every time who is either a pastor or an elder at a church. A wide range of topics for pastors from a wide range of people who are welcomed to the discussion. If you are a pastor I encourage you to listen to at least one each off day you have in your week. You will be encouraged and you will be challenged in your ministry and preaching. You can listen to the likes of Owen Strachan, Jeff Iorg, Simon Gathercole, Bruce Ashford, Alvin Reid, Donald Whitney, and many more.

Favorite – Becoming a Christ-Centered Expositor (w/ Tony Merida)

 

Honorable mentions:

These did not make it into the list, but I recommend. These did not make the list in large part because I am somewhat new to listening, I do not listen on a regular basis, or they are from a specific season (not regularly added to).

  • Truth in Love (ACBC) – Biblical Counseling
  • Thinking in Public (Al Mohler) – Public Theology
  • Signposts with Russell Moore – Public Theology
  • Here We Stand (Desiring God) – Reformation history snippets
  • Coram Deo (Kyle Howard) – Racial reconciliation, counseling, and theology
  • The Front Porch – Church and theology for African-American churches and beyond
  • Church for the Rest of Us (Family Church Network) – Ministry and the local church
  • 5 Minutes in Church History (Stephen Nichols) – Snippets in Church history
By | 2018-04-26T01:23:02+00:00 April 27th, 2018|

Life in the Wild Book Review

Life in the Wild Book Review

Life in the Wild

by Dan Dewitt
Length: Approximately 5 hours. To read (127 pages)
TCB Rating:
four-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

We live in a wild world surrounded by sin, insecurity, depression, doubt, and confusion. Life in the Wild journeys from the garden of Eden to the thick brush we find ourselves caught up in. Dan Dewitt expounds from Scripture the reality of how we wandered into the wild and proclaims the Savior who is coming to rescue us. We lead ourselves to the wild, but God has provided a way “out of the wild” (pg. 124).

Who should read this?

This book is saturated with the Gospel. Dewitt seeks to walk through Genesis 3 and along the way points to Jesus as the Redeemer of the Fall. Every Christian should read this book. If you find yourself wondering what is the purpose in this broken life, read this book. If you have doubts about your salvation and God’s plan, read this book. If you doubt God, read this book. The book is extremely readable and culturally engaging. A great resource for discipleship to walk through life as a sinner who is redeemed and living in a wild world.

This book is also one of those books to walk through with an unbeliever to have Gospel conversations. He displays his vast experience with conversing amidst our culture and thinking through the brokenness that is unavoidable. Dewitt does not assume an understanding upon the reader but challenges each reader to think deeply about this world and who we are.

Life in the Wild Book Review 1

SUMMARY

Dan Dewitt is a natural writer whose words appeal to the mind. Life in the Wild is a project birthed out of a group of talks given on a secular college campus. The tone and aim is a recognition of our sinfulness, a God who redeems us from our fallen state, who guides us through this fallen state, and has promised to come for us to be with Him again.

The structure of the book is based upon Genesis 3. Each chapter is so faithful to God’s Word that you cannot help but meditate on God’s Word. A book aimed toward God’s Word is successful when you desire God’s Word while reading the book. Dan is completely successful in achieving the purpose in this book. As a matter of fact, in the middle of chapter 2 a psalm is being spoken about and the reader is instructed to “pause…” (pg. 42). The reader is instructed to stop reading the book and to read Scripture. You will be pointed to God’s Word, and even instructed to do it, throughout this book. The book deploys of conviction from the Holy Spirit, and Dan Dewitt, that you will want to stop just to read the actual passages from Scripture.

The book is greatly needed for the world we live in. As stated in the book we live in the wild and life just sometimes sucks (his words not mine, though I did underline it). We live in a culture where the worldview prevalent is a denial of God due to the existence of evil and suffering. Dewitt combats this worldview by painting an accurate view of God and His character. The presentation of the Gospel is sensitive to living in the wild and hopeful of being saved from the wild. Many cultural topics are discussed throughout the book including gender roles, sexuality, sin, relationship between God and man, and many more. This will be a helpful read to those who struggle and to those who are helping those struggling.

In discipleship, teaching a new or young believer how to live as a Christ-follower is important. As teachers and disciplers we are not equipping them for the work if they do not know how to survive. Life in the Wild will help understand how to lean on God and to lean on the hope found in Jesus’ return. This book will help point toward satisfaction and guidance amidst our own sinfulness and our fallen world. The beauty in the pages is Dewitt’s undertone of apologetics. Throughout the book you are learning to answer the questions concerning: Who is God? Why does suffering exist? What hope is there in this world? Readers will learn comfort and confidence for their journey in the wild.

The book argues for a biblical view of God and rightly views redemption of God’s people. A world which says there is no God – Genesis says God created all things. A culture that says God cannot exist because of suffering – Genesis says sin caused that suffering. A life that sucks – Genesis says Jesus is coming to make it all better again. Dewitt’s experience through being an apologetics teacher, faithful disciple, former Seminary professor, and fellow wanderer in the wild amplifies the message through well-thought apologetics. This book welcomes you to take a raw look at a life that has thought through the character of God and this world we live in. He draws illustrations ranging from those who have been faithful in the past to present day examples found in movies and books.

Creatively communicated and fun to read, this book will encourage you in your walk with Jesus. I found myself laughing out loud for a minute or two at one point and pages later reflecting in awe of what Jesus did for me, a sinner. This is a book you will want and you will want to put in other people’s hand also.

ANALYSIS

I already have an idea to use this book for discipleship. I cannot recommend this book to enough people because it is so encouraging in a world that seems to lack encouragement in the Christian walk. Dan Dewitt achieves his goal and this book is a true blessing to those who read it. I pondered on some of Genesis 3 and thought through some truths I had not thought of before. The book is a great compact reminder of what the Gospel is. We must continue to preach the Gospel to ourselves and to remind ourselves of what Jesus has done – this book helps achieve that reminder.

My favorite part of the book was the instruction to pause reading and to read God’s Word. Telling your reader to stop reading and read something else is not a common tactic among authors. However, Dewitt agrees that God’s Word is worth more of our time and would be of benefit if we just kept reading in our Bible. To his credit, I did read and meditate and then eagerly began reading Life in the Wild again.

Another strength of the book is his care in being a sinner and living in a fallen state. If we are found in Jesus we have been freed from our bondage of sin. However, we still live in a fallen state that needs to be focused on Jesus to grow. Sometimes books lean more toward the forgiveness side of the Gospel and do not mention much about holiness and judgment. Other times, books lean toward the harsh guilt trip of holiness with no concern about grace and forgiveness. Within these pages you will find a strong position on holiness and soothing words of grace and forgiveness. God desires obedience. God gives love.

There is not much I would critique about this book. I would have desired for a little more interaction with cultural pressures that we deal with. In chapter 4, the reader will find a great interaction with an opposing cultural worldview prevalent around us. This is his strong point and probably the chapter I enjoyed the most. He delicately, yet, unapologetically lays out the biblical foundation of gender roles and biblical sexuality. While I know this was not the aim of the book, I feel it was well placed and well handled in that chapter and could have been done in the rest.

The second critique, more of a desire, is the balance of Scripture. Each chapter starts with a passage from Genesis 3, while throughout the book Jesus is pointed to as the redeemer. While passages from the New Testament are used and spoken about, I think it would have been neat to start by talking about the passage from Genesis 3 and ending with a correlating passage from the New Testament directly showing the fulfillment by Jesus.  

CONCLUSION

Life in the Wild has been one of my favorite books read recently. A well-written, Bible-saturated, cultural-relevant, and God-honoring book that should be ordered in bulk. Found within the covers are pages filled with encouragement, hope, rest, and for those who have not yet repented and believed, the message of salvation. This book will push you toward the pages of God’s Word and will give you pep in your step while journeying through this wild life.  

FAVORITE QUOTES

“This fallen world, the wild, hasn’t changed much since Adam and Eve’s time. The headlines have basically been the same since Genesis 3. But one day the page will turn, the king will return, and history will be set right. One day goodness will be restored.” (pg. 17)

“Does this mean we can avoid living in the wild? No. The consequences of Genesis 3 will continue until the day Christ returns. But we can live well in the wild, and we can have confidence and hope, because we know that Jesus is leading us through it, and will keep us safe in him until we reach the other side.” (pg. 34)

“Jesus is a better big brother. In the face of these defiant religious leaders who think they are too good for the outsiders, Jesus shows that he has come to do what the big brother should have done. He has come to find us – the lowly, prodigals, rebels, delinquents, sinners. Us. He came to find us.” (pg. 41)

“God doesn’t just show us gender roles in isolation, like separate instruction manuals for men and women, but gives us a picture of the gender roles in relationship with one another.” (pg. 64)

“Sometimes the best we can do is merely look, but God is strong enough to use even weak faith. The key is not the strength of our faith but the power of God.” (pg. 121)

four-stars
By | 2018-05-02T01:18:32+00:00 April 7th, 2018|

This Changes Everything Book Review

This Changes Everything Book Review

This Changes Everything

by Jaquelle Crowe
Length: Approximately 6 hours. To read (160 pages)
TCB Rating:
five-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

This Changes Everything is a monumental book in Christian literature. The book aims to guide teens toward a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus. Jaquelle strengthens the mind, grows the heart, and entertains the soul with a seriousness about the Gospel. The book teaches who God is and instructs how to follow Him better.

Who should read this?

The book is aimed for teens. I would highly recommend every teen to read this book; then read it again. I would encourage parents and youth pastors to put this book in every teen’s hands. This book can be given to an unbelieving teen, new Christian teen, or a mature teen in the faith. While this book is aimed toward teens, and most of the application and illustrations apply to teens, everyone would benefit from reading this book.

This Changes Everything Book Review 1

SUMMARY

This Changes Everything is a book that is all about making God big and stirring a seriousness in teens about God. The introduction to the book Jaquelle states, “If we love Jesus, we’ll love truth, and we’ll want to grow…These aren’t our rebellious years; these are the years we rise up to obey the call of Christ…This isn’t a season for self-satisfaction; it’s a season for God-glorification” (pg. 14). Each chapter of the book is to the aim of serious disciples of Jesus. The book evenly balances the interpersonal with the duty to the Church and the Lost. She causes you to both desire holiness, community, and mission.

Most books geared toward teens seem to be shallow in there call to holiness and pursuit of Jesus. We live in a culture that does not think youth can handle deep teaching of God’s Word. In this book you cannot give that excuse because the author was 18 at the time of writing this book. This comes from a perspective of someone who is a teen and who has also applied these truths to real life. Throughout the book Jaquelle shares of the hard things she has had to deal with in her walk. She also shares what others have done to help her grow in the faith.

Many of the chapter include diagrams and illustrations demonstrating the truths she is speaking of. Along with the illustrations, lists are given to encourage youth toward good music and good books. Teens will be pointed toward good theology and good resources that will cause them to be excited to begin this journey. They will read this book and realize this is just the beginning and the journey will be joyful.

The book begins with the identity of Christianity. Understanding our identity in Jesus and understanding how salvation happens is the foundation and anchor of the book. In these opening chapters the clarity and simplicity of the Gospel is put on display. Within the first chapter an illustration of the characteristics of a Christian are listed and then described.

The highlight to the book might be the emphasis on the Church and the local church. Many teen books focus on morality, and they have good intentions of personal holiness at times. Jaquelle Crowe points teens to a deep love for the local church and to serve the local church. In the chapter entitled “Our Community”, she not only points to the necessity of the local church but also gives examples of how to serve in the local church. She calls teens to not just attend but to also be involved. The message of teens being part of the church now, and not just the future of the church, is said with a megaphone. A beautiful connection of the first two chapters on identity and Gospel story leading to a natural line of life in the local church.

Reaching the middle of the book is the introduction of sin. Sin has already been spoken to and seen as the problem in this whole situation. However, this chapter is so graceful and encouraging for the teen. Teens will be equipped to attack sin and to fight against temptation. They will also read about the process of freedom from sin and a right standing before God. While the whole book is written in a simple and profound way, this chapter will teach the beauty of theology. Jesus is magnified in this chapter and the sinner finds rest in their Savior.  

The rest of the book deals with practical outwork of salvation in the teen. They will spend time reading about creating spiritual disciplines. She will encourage time in the Word and the necessity of time in prayer. She continues speaking to the importance of growth and continuing to stay steadfast in that growth. The whole idea of the book is to show teens why they are to be growing in their faith, now. They are not to wait until they are older but there is great encouragement that growth begins now. I also wish someone would have encouraged me to spend my time wisely.

She not only encourages teens to do; she encourages them to rest, rightly. The book ends looking at our relationships. Teens will be encouraged to use their relationships for the glory of God. They will also be encouraged to make deep, meaningful relationships with others who are part of the family of God. Each chapter ends with questions in how to apply all of these truths to life. Further, she challneges them to do it now.

Jaquelle calls for a generation of teens to be serious about their faith and to take serious their walk with Jesus. God is glorified and the teens are encouraged. The book is written with illustrations aimed toward teens, application that resonate with teens, and writing style that is fun for teens also. The book will intrigue them, challenge them, encourage them, and motivate them to be ambassadors for Christ now.

ANALYSIS

This book could be confused with a well-seasoned and older saint in the faith. I personally walked through this book with a few teens in my youth group. The book sparked so much discussion and helped them to understand the application and implications of the faith to another level. I then gave this book to every youth that went to camp and to those who graduated. The results are still coming to fruition with unbelievers asking questions about the Gospel.

Further, I have had those who have professed faith begin to live some of these truths out in their lives. The book is saturated with Scripture and will cause the teens to see Scripture as the guiding point of it all. If you were to take out all Scripture references and all places Jaquelle was expounding upon Scripture, there would not be much of a book and it would not make sense. This is what we need in teen Christian literature, as well as Christian literature itself.

This book also points teens toward solid bible teachers. When I first began to be serous about my faith in high school I did not know where to go in terms of literature and good teaching. There is a dangerous world of false teachers that seem appealing. This book will give them a list of teachers and resources that will point them toward solid bible teaching and sound doctrine. The illustrations to help understand the truths are so helpful. The illustrations are aimed toward the teens for simplicity, but the truths within the illustrations are aimed at the heart of the teens.

I only found one flaw in this book and this concept. The book should not just be written for teens but all Christians. The book was written in such a way that I felt the need to read it again, myself. An adult version should have been written in partnership with the release of this book. I would be straining and reaching to find much of a flaw.

The book is written perfect for teens, the message is clear, and the structure builds. I think this book should be required reading and on every priority list. I would even encourage parents to read the book alongside and with their teens.

CONCLUSION

This Changes Everything will be around for a long time. This book can be used in application and illustration for many years to come. The only thing that could make it better is if she does an expanded and updated version. The book is such an encouragement to the soul. The teen will finish this book and have a solid foundation in their understanding of God and what they can do for His Kingdom. There is not a book for teens that matches this book.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “After we’re saved and have become part of the universal church (that is, all Christians everywhere), it is our responsibility to join a local church.” (pg. 4)

 

  • “When the gospel saved us, it made us alive in Christ, breathing life into our dead hearts. We became wide awake and hungry spiritual newborns, thirsty sprouts our eyes freshly opened to the world. And immediately, we started growing.” (pg. 98)

 

  • “Every relationship should be about us loving like Jesus, serving like Jesus, encouraging like Jesus, and, like Jesus, glorifying God above all else.” (pg. 145)

 

  • “We practice the spiritual disciplines because we are motivated by abundant affection for Christ and a thriving desire to grow in him. We do them because of the gospel.” (pg. 82)

 

  • “The gospel does not start and end with us. From first to last, it’s about him and his plan to save people from every tribe and nation and tongue.” (pg. 93)
five-stars
By | 2018-03-08T08:08:32+00:00 March 8th, 2018|

Single Digit Thoughts on Singleness

Singleness can be hard. Singleness can be lonely. However, Scripture tells us that singleness is a gift to be treasured. I have listed a few thoughts about singleness that have occurred to me in self-reflection over the last few days.

I look forward to hearing thoughts from others to add to the list. I thought it would make since to stick to the single digits for a post about singles. I also don’t like odd numbers which is why I stopped at 8. I digress. Single Digit Thoughts on Singleness

I hope this list to be both encouraging and challenging to those who are struggling and waiting.

When our struggle with singleness is obvious to everyone around us, we are showing the world Jesus isn’t sufficient.

This one is hard to deal with. We all struggle with singleness (unless you just have the miraculous gift of singleness and you know early on). I do not suggest that there will be no struggle or that no one will know/should know of your struggle. I am suggesting that we do not be like the religious who are fasting and making a scene about our situation. May we struggle for the glory of God while literally bringing glory to God in that struggle.

May we struggle for the glory of God while literally bringing glory to God in that struggle. Click To Tweet

 

We often don’t know how to handle singleness because we have not spent time studying Scripture about singleness.

I never knew how much Scripture spoke to singleness until a was in a college a year or two. In order to find the depths of these passages we must be students of the Word. We have the common passages, like 1 Corinthians 7, that speak explicitly to singleness. However, we also have monumental amounts of Scripture about the life of a Christian that does not pertain to only the married. We have the Great Commission and the Great Commandment that does not pertain to only the married. Further, we have the longing for Christ that involves everyone.

 

Rightly handling our singleness has a lot to do with how we handle our time.

I recently did a study in 1 Corinthians 7 and what it was calling for in our singleness. In this passage Paul explains that singleness is a gift, explains the gift has much to do with time, and then speaks to marriage. We often act as if these sections are not to be read independently as well as together. All of us are anxious to arrive at the section on marriage that we neglect the section on our singleness. He instructs us to use our time of singleness by learning to please the Lord (vs. 32), learn holiness (vs. 34), and to devote ourselves to the Lord (vs. 35).

 

We must realize that marriage is the norm in Scripture while singleness is a unique gift, therefore, we are to prize that gift.

Marriage is given to man in the act of Creation. Marriage is established while mankind is being established. There is great purpose in recognizing the norm of marriage and the picture of marriage given by God. While marriage is also considered a gift, singleness is a unique gift that is different from the normal plan of God for His people.

Throughout Scripture certain people in the service of God are called to abstain from marriage. Paul speaks much to marriage but he also speaks to the high gift that singleness is. We are to prize the time we have in singleness. The context of Scripture is that singleness is a great gift that is to bring great joy.

We often view singleness as a time to be selfish when the biblical call to singleness is being freed up to give more of ourselves.

Many times, we treat singleness as if it’s the time to do whatever we want. This is the time to buy expensive things, live life to the fullest, and bask in only being responsible for ourselves. However, once again Paul speaks to our time of singleness as God ordained for more of our time to be given to Him. Singleness is the time we are to learn what it means to rest and serve.

In the biblical context, we learn to balance resting in God for contentment and growth and serving Him through the extra time we have been given. Marriage is not the time to settle down and get serious. Marriage is not the time to finally begin figuring out where God is calling you to serve. What if more of us spent out time serving God in our singleness and we met our spouses through serving His Kingdom together.

 

We often struggle most in our singleness when we are spending less time with God.

As stated in the beginning, these are reflections of my own time of singleness. This one hits hard. The times I most feel lonely and incomplete is when I am spending the least amount of time with God. I have found out there is a reason for this cause and effect. A future spouse is not the fulfillment to my loneliness or incompleteness, God is!

The moment we try to fill the void with someone other than God we will feel empty. I am not marriage and I usually don’t just hand out marriage advice; however, I would venture to say that this is a struggle even in marriage. When we begin to fill a void with something, or someone, other than God it will leave us struggling.

 

We often long for a spouse more than we long for Jesus.

In step with thought #6, if we are not spending time with God than we are longing for a spouse over Jesus. The reality is that marriage will not last forever. Paul is clear in Ephesians that all of this is a picture of Jesus and the Church. The book of Revelation uses Jesus’ return with events like the Marriage Supper and Bride of Christ.

My prayer is that I will be more excited when Jesus is coming than when I see my future wife coming. I pray that each day I would long for Christ more than I long for the first breathe I consciously take or the first piece of food I eat. What if the world saw us longing for Jesus and finding Him sufficient for our longing for a spouse?

 

We often try to find comfort in sexual sins instead of finding contentment in Jesus.

The danger we face in our culture today is the sexual temptation. Our world tells us that our happiness will be fulfilled in physical sex or the imagination of our mind. We are being exploited by a sexually driven world and we are giving in to it. We are built for intimacy, but we are deceived in thinking that only comes through sex.

The world makes us confused in a sexually confused society that when we experience elongated singleness the world tells us to diverge from the biblical gender roles or biblical example of marriage between a man and a woman. God provided the greatest gift of intimacy we could ever receive. Ephesians 1 tells us that the Trinity emptied their love into the gift of salvation. May we find fulfillment not in what people can offer us physically but what God has given to us spiritually.

I pray that we would see a resurgence of single Christians who are a light to those around them. As singles, we can show the world that this is a gift and that we long for and are satisfied in someone who is greater. We also can give testimony to our future spouses, if the Lord wills, of our foundation in Jesus. We are to spend our time wisely in singleness in order that we can be better prepared for what God calls of us.

As singles, we can show the world that this is a gift and that we long for and are satisfied in someone who is greater. Click To Tweet

He may call some of us into marriage and thus we have a better foundation of marriage. He may call some of us into a life of singleness and we have a better foundation to continue giving of ourselves for His Kingdom. Either way singleness and marriage are not eternal. One day our Savior is coming again and the eternal wedding will take place.

We will all be completely satisfied and lacking nothing. What a glorious day that will be.

 

RECOMMENDED READING

By | 2018-03-08T08:03:30+00:00 February 24th, 2018|

Covenant Book Review

Covenant Book Review

Covenant

by Thomas R. Schreiner
Length: Approximately 4 hours. To read (119 pages)
TCB Rating:
four-half-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

Have you ever began reading the book of Matthew and just skip over most of chapter 1? Did you know that the Bible is telling one story? The covenants in Scripture all point to a God of promise and a God of redemption. Tom Schreiner sets out to introduce the basics of covenant theology and how that helps us to read Scripture. In Covenant, Tom helps to paint a picture of Scripture as a unified account of a salvific God.

Who should read this?

Covenant is written for the average church attender. The book will challenge you to grow in a deeper knowledge of Scripture and to understand the overall message of Scripture. A great book to introduce any willing reader to Covenant Theology.

SUMMARY

In the opening pages of Covenant, Dr. Schreiner defines the term covenant. He states a covenant is “a chosen relationship in which two parties make binding promises to each other” (pg. 13). He makes the case that not all covenants are the same. Many people try to give a narrow definition of covenant that makes it hard to classify the covenants together.

Early in the book the reader can find Dr. Schreiner setting up the stage to state his case of Covenant Theology. The introduction is the foundation provides the elements needed for a covenant. A clear articulation of the elements found in God’s covenants with His people helps to understand and identify them in Scripture.

The body of the book is identifying and supporting each covenant that forms the backbone of Scripture. Those who have a basic understanding of Covenant Theology already, will still find this book to be intriguing. The first chapter of the book is the introduction of the covenants in which Dr. Schreiner calls the “Covenant of Creation” (pg. 20). He claims this to be a better name for the covenant, as opposed to other names given, considering the redemptive story.

This is an example of the wide range of audience that would enjoy reading this book. Dr. Schreiner writes simplistically to introduce the covenants while also writing with depth to intrigue the scholar.

The aim of writing this book is clearly felt in leading people to reading Scripture better. Many people don’t understand how Scripture is telling one story. Even if they do understand it they wouldn’t know how to articulate it. The book has a tone of simply displaying the work of God in the lives of His people. Apposed to most resources written on this topic, this book is not weighty in explanation and wording. Dr. Schreiner writes in a way that the average church-goer can understand.

The book has a clear message and structured in being outlined by the covenants themselves. The middle of the chapters can sometimes bog you down if you are not used to reading theology books. However, I urge you to press forward because the conclusions of each chapter are worth the read. The book guides you to love Scripture more deeply than you already do.

My favorite part of the book is how the chapter looks forward to the next and reminds you of the previous. Dr. Schreiner builds a foundation and then walks you through the structure until the building is finished. The foundation is the definition and explanation of the word covenant in Scripture. The rest of the book introduces the covenant, echoes the previous covenant, and points toward the next covenant. Each chapter is laden with Scripture and foreshadowing the coming of Jesus.

Each passing covenant builds the anticipation of a covenant that is to come. The culmination is found in the chapter on the “New Covenant”. In this chapter the fulfilling role of Jesus is put on display for the reader. Dr. Schreiner provides a high view of God and an anticipation of Jesus.

As pointed out throughout the book, the author wants a deeper understanding of Scripture while also having a right understanding of Scripture. Though not written in a tone of response, the book writes with a specific view of the covenants in mind. Periodically, those who are more well versed in Covenant Theology will find clear articulations of a New Covenant Theology perspective.

The beginning chapters argue for a “covenant of creation” over a “covenant of works” or “Adamic covenant”. Further, the idea of dispensations is not mentioned and the argument for one continuous plan through a promise given by God is the conviction. While the purpose of the book is not to argue a certain position in Covenant Theology nor to refute Dispensationalism; the conviction is clear as to a Christ longing and Christ centered aim of Scripture reading.

The book is founded and rooted in Scripture. One would also have a hard time refuting the book due to how intertwined Dr. Schreiner shows Scripture to be. He proves that each covenant is part of the one plan of redemption and not to be seen as individuals. As stated earlier, the book is a constant building project that ends by causing you to step back and admire what has just been built. You will not feel lost in the middle wondering how you got to that covenant or how the covenant is involved with the rest of the covenants. The clear, simple articulation helps us to see the plan that God has revealed to us through His Word.

ANALYSIS

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I love the study of biblical theology and covenant theology. I wish I had this book when I first started reading about Covenant Theology. I would agree with most of Dr. Schreiner’s points and therefore would recommend this book to be a good introduction. However, even if you don’t have the same convictions of the author this is still a good intro to other views than you may hold.

The purpose and aim of the book was met through a succinct treatment of the subject. Volumes have been written on this theme but I have yet to read one that explains so much in such a little space. This book is perfect if you are looking to read through Scripture in the year and want something to help you better understand. This book is perfect if you are a church member that finds their understanding unfamiliar with the covenants in Scripture.

This book is also perfect for those who seek to answer their call into ministry and want to teach God’s Word. The book will constantly point you to Scripture with every page having numerous Scripture references. The arguments are simple and the message is clear. Jesus is being pointed to and God is being glorified.

I would have one point of critique and one point of warning to the reader. A few places in the book can be found to be speculative in proving a point. Dr. Schreiner is making the case for the “Covenant of Creation” and speculates the symbolic image of the lamp stand in the temple, as well as, what would have happened if Adam and Eve would not have sinned. This is amidst making a case that is often debated and he is striving to give proof of his case.

In fairness, Dr. Schreiner does admit that at least one of these is speculative. I would also give a sense of warning to the reader who is not use to reading technical work. While the work overall is not technical there were two or three times I felt the book may get a little more technical than the average reader is accustomed to. However, in these cases I also felt that the point being made is summarized well and the conclusion helps to see the point.

CONCLUSION

I think this book has great necessity. The simple resource it is has many great resources. I can see this book being used in discipleship settings, Sunday School classes, new member recommendation resources, and even undergraduate biblical theology classes. I have yet to think of a book that would compare that masters the succinct, simple, deep, and articulate handling of God’s Word and His unfolding plan. Other books of this size, dealing with the same subject will simply be historical in nature or will require a prior knowledge of content and opposition. I highly recommend this to be a resource for the local church to put in the hands of their members.

I pray this resource would lead others to a deeper reading of Scripture. This book is not just for those called to ministry or for the highly intelligent. The tone of Dr. Schreiner is that our minds would understand the plan of redemption as laid out in the covenants. Upon understanding with our minds the goal is that our hearts would worship in the salvation that has been given to us.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “To understand the Scriptures well, we need to understand how these covenants are interrelated, and we need to see how they advance the story of God’s kingdom in the Scriptures. The covenants help us, then, to see the harmony and unity of the biblical message.” (pg. 13)
  • “God inaugurated history with creation and will consummate it with the new creation, and thus the old creation anticipates and points forward to the new creation.” (pg. 20)
  • “The [Noahic] covenant to preserve the world, then, wasn’t grounded on human godliness and goodness. Instead, the continuity of the world is due to the mercy of God.” (pg. 37)
  • “Those who are truly Abraham’s children demonstrate that they belong to Abraham if they love Jesus.” (pg. 55)
  • “Old-covenant sacrifices were offered repeatedly, for they didn’t truly effect forgiveness. Christ’s sacrifice was offered once, for by his death he dealt with sin completely and definitively…Under the old covenant free and total access to God wasn’t granted…Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice truly cleanses the conscience of his people, and thus we can approach God’s throne boldly and with confidence.” (pg. 97)
four-half-stars
By | 2018-02-20T09:19:29+00:00 February 20th, 2018|

Oops!

Hi, thanks for dropping by! Looks like you caught us changing … our site design. Please excuse our mess! If you find any bugs or have an suggestions, email us at info@topchristianbooks.online. We’ll definitely reply.

Pin It on Pinterest