Extravagant Grace

After reading Barbara Duguid’s book, I found myself recommending it to everyone. I would use phrases like “paradigm shifting,” and “life changing” to communicate the importance of this read in my life.  

Before I read this book I thought I understood grace. However as I read page after page of this 228 page book,  I experienced Mrs. Duguid uncovering and kicking the legs out from under my non-stop tendency to try to please God and “win” His approval by means of my own goodness. In fact, she gets in the face of every Christian with statements like,

You will never be able to find steady joy in this life until you understand, submit to, and even embrace the fact that you are weak and sinful.

Let’s be honest: if the chief work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification is to make Christians more sin-free, then he isn’t doing a very good job.

Having spent years soaking in the writings of John Newton, Barbara Duguid has written a tremendously helpful work that challenges us to believe that our God has sovereign purposes in allowing our sin and failures to remain. Beyond that, as Tullian Tchividjian says, “we need more and more books like this that remind us that the focus of the Christian faith is not the life of the Christian but Christ.” 

Our Worship and Our Fears

Tullian Over Thanksgiving, my daughter Casey has been preparing for a CRU small group meeting next week. She wants to talk with her freshman girls about the meaning and importance of worship. 

Because of Casey’s interest and because I have been reading Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different by Tullian Tchividjian, his blog post on our worship and our fears caught my eye this morning.  I find his writing clear and concise – he said in a few paragraphs what it takes some authors a book to say!

The Prodigal God

prodigal-god If you think you have heard it all and know it all about the parable of the Prodigal son found in Luke 15—think again!

This book by Tim Keller unfolds rich gospel truths in the simplest but most profound ways. 

The jacket description suggests that

“Keller uncovers the essential message of Jesus, locked inside his most familiar parable.  Within that parable Jesus reveals God’s prodigal grace toward the irreligious and the moralistic.  This book will challenge both the devout and skeptics to see Christianity in a whole new way.”

I found all that and more by reading these wonderful 133 pages.  If you are hungering for the grace filled truth of the gospel read this!  If you are more like the elder brother than the younger in this parable please read this!  Whatever your reason—read this book!  We are not very far into 2009 but this is my favorite so far.


In Christ Alone

564 I first heard Sinclair Ferguson speak at a Faith and Life Conference at All Saints Presbyterian Church in Richmond, VA. 

A few years later I was at a Ligonier Conference in Orlando and listened to him present deep truths from the Gospel of John that were all the more compelling as they came wrapped in the sound of his rich Scottish accent.  Because his teaching always challenged and enlarged my heart and mind, I was anxious to read his new book:

In Christ Alone.

I had a sense as I moved from chapter to chapter that I was reading something "greater than" other books that I have delighted in.  Early on, my mind stopped referencing my fondness for Sinclair Ferguson because I became enthralled with the glory and supremacy of Christ.  I found myself intending to stop at the end of one chapter only to be grabbed by the title of the next and reading on. It was thrilling to see how many ways and through how many topics he remained commitedly Christocentric.  I know that this will be a book that I will return to again and again.  It is such a gift of concise, enriching Jesus exalting teaching.

Some of the questions dealt with are:

  • What does it mean to abide in Christ?
  • What is a legitimate prayer?
  • Why did Jesus weep at Lazarus’ tomb?
  • How well do you play second fiddle?
  • What does it mean to come to Christ for rest?
  • What does contentment look like and why does it have to be learned?
  • What can we know about our enemy the Devil?
  • What am I to think in light of struggles and suffering?
  • How am I to exercise the liberty that I have in Christ?

ferguson Having just completed a study of Hebrews, I was especially interested in the chapters that unpacked the meanings of that book.

Ferguson asks a question that he called a touchstone of truth so that a reader could discern the influence that a particular teaching was having on them.  "Is this teaching by which I am being influenced leading me to love and trust Jesus more? Or less?  (p. 67) 

I can say with deep appreciation and joy–this book certainly led me into a deeper love of my Savior Jesus!

Does This Taste Stale to You?

I have recently finished a book that asked the question, “Does your spiritual life taste stale to you?”  I guess that question touched a responsive chord because I plopped down the $12.99 retail rather than searching on-line and bought the book.  It was difficult to walk on by after the title grabbed my attention: I became a Christian and all I got was this lousy T-shirt. 

30121_detail It was written by Vince Antonucci a man raised by a Jewish mother and abandoned by his poker-playing father.  He now pastors a church in Virginia Beach known as Forefront Church.

I found his storytelling captivatingly honest and the weaving of biblical principles through the stories fresh and inviting. It is funny and poignant and the first book in quite a while that I could not put down.

Imagine a believer suggesting that Christians should buy a bumper sticker that reads “Stop Having a Relationship with Jesus.” 

When the shock of that statement wears off you see that he is pointedly inviting you to consider whether just a relationship with Jesus is enough for you.  He helps you think about something that might be more precious.  Here is how he makes that point:

Continue reading “Does This Taste Stale to You?”