O God, give us patience when those who are wicked hurt us. O how impatient and angry we are when we think ourselves unjustly slandered, reviled and hurt! Christ suffers blows upon his cheek, the innocent for the guilty; yet we may not abide one rough word for his sake. O Lord, grant us virtue and patience, power and strength, that we may take all adversity with goodwill, and with a gentle mind overcome it. And if necessity and thy honour require us to speak, grant that we may do so with meekness and patience, that they truth and thy glory may be defended, and our patience and steadfast continuance perceived.
-Miles Coverdale (1488-1569)
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, ESV)
Marriage is precious because it was God's idea. It's important to Him because it is a rough sketch of the unity which exists within the Godhead. It is mysterious because husbands' love for their wives should mirror Christ's love for the church. I am so thankful for the gift of marriage and for my lovely wife.
I listened to a marvelous sermon on marriage this week by Denny Burk. If you have the time, it's well worth a listen. He closed the sermon with a beautiful poem he wrote to his wife on their third anniversary. I realize that not everyone will marry, but most will. By God's grace, may we press through the good times and the bad and hold our sacred vows for His glory.
The old man took her tired hand
to hold for one last time.
The years had fin’lly pressed her to
her final breaths of life.
Their wrinkled hands in warm embrace
brought back the long-gone years,
The memories of their happy times,
and those dissolved in tears.
The old man saw in her ill frame
the girl that stole his heart.
He saw in her that gracious gaze
that filled their home with warmth.
His mind turned back to lighter days
when she did make her mark,
The children her love reared for them,
Her single heart for God.
He also felt the weight of grace
that marked her many years,
How she had borne him patiently
when he did cause the tears.
The old man said, “My love, the time
was cruelly short to me.
I cannot say goodbye to you
and let your passing be.”
“How can I ever say farewell
or ever let you part?
You are my only precious thing,
the joy of my old heart.”
And as his eyes began to well,
she reached to touch his face.
And then her quivering voice began
to give one final grace.
“This is the day the Lord has made,
The one He’s brought to pass.
This day was written in His book
before my first was past.”
“The Lord has granted us to spend
together all these years.
He’s also granted all the joy
and even all our tears.”
“And though this is a bitter day,
we owe Him so much thanks.
Dear, we made it! By Him we did!
Yes, we made it! By grace!”
Oh Father, grant that we may see
our days as at their end.
Oh let us know the weight of grace
in every year we spend.
We make this prayer unto You,
for there is no one higher.
This testimony of Your grace
we desperately desire!
O THOU GIVING GOD,
My heart is drawn out in thankfulness
for thy amazing grace and condescension
in influences and assistances of thy Spirit,
for special help in prayer,
for the sweetness of Christian service,
for the thoughts of arriving in heaven,
for always sending me needful supplies,
for raising me to new life when I am
like one dead.
I want not the favour of man to lean upon
for thy favour is infinitely better.
Thou art eternal wisdom in dispensations
and it matters not when, nor where, nor how
I serve thee,
nor what trials I am exercised with,
if I might but be prepared for thy work and will.
No poor creature stands in need of divine grace
more than I do,
And yet none abuses it more than I have done,
and still do.
How heartless and dull I am!
Humble me in the dust for not loving thee more.
Every time I exercise any grace renewedly
I am renewedly indebted to thee,
the God of all grace, for special assistance.
I cannot boast when I think how dependent
I am upon thee for the being and every act
I never do anything else but depart from thee,
and if ever I get to heaven it will be because
thou willest it, and for no reason beside.
I love, as a feeble, afflicted, despised creature,
to cast myself on thy infinite grace and goodness,
hoping for no happiness but from thee;
Give me special grace to fit me for special services,
and keep me calm and resigned at all times,
humble, solemn, mortified,
and conformed to thy will.
-The Valley of Vision
Grant us, O Lord, to know that which is worth knowing,
to love that which is worth loving,
to praise that which can bear with praise,
to hate what in thy sight is unworthy,
to prize what to thee is precious,
and, above all, to search out and to do what is well-pleasing unto thee;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
-Thomas A Kempis
A short while ago, I came across this post by David Powlison:
What words can I say to you when your life is hard and you are hurting? If we were face to face, I probably wouldn’t start with words at all. I would want you to talk when you are able. I want to know you, what you are going through, what it is like for you, and how you are doing. Simply being present and conveying that tears, heartache, and confusion are valid would probably be more helpful. Many wise Christians have commented that Job’s counselors did well until they opened their mouths (Job 2:11-13), and I certainly don’t think there is some magic word that will make everything better.
But when it comes time to say something, I might say this: Jesus is a most sympathetic friend, fellow sufferer, and Savior. He has walked a hard road. He has felt his own anguish and crushing pain (Isaiah 53). He understands. He is compassionate toward you. By the comfort of his presence and sympathy, he intends to draw you out and draw you to Himself.
I encourage you to go to him and speak to him. There is something about our ability to find words to express what we’re experiencing that makes a genuine difference. A wise Christian of many centuries ago said, “To open one’s heart to one’s friend—it doubles our joys and cuts our griefs in half.” I have found this to be true. Sharing a joy really does double the joy. And of course, sharing heartache never takes it all away — but there’s something about speaking to someone who truly cares about you that soothes your wounds. You are not alone.
The psalms, which are so full of heartache and so full of faith, often start with simply giving voice to the experience of suffering. As they do, it’s significant to notice that they don’t simply cry out in a scream of pain. They cry out to God who hears, who cares, who draws near, who helps. We can speak to our God. May you cry out to our God. He calls you his friend. He deeply cares for you. He is your Savior. Trust Him. He has walked down this road before you. He promises to walk with you in this.
And I might say one more thing. Suffering must be walked through one step at a time. Be honest. Don’t take any shortcuts. Let each day’s trouble be sufficient for that day. Seek your Father. If you seek him, you will find him.
As the forward to this book admits, leadership books abound. Christian leadership books abound. So what makes this book unique? What does it add to the already crowded field of leadership literature?
Several things caught my attention. First, it is a theology of biblical leadership. The essays in this book focus upon what various portions of scripture have to say about leadership. Each essay focuses on a book or section of the Bible. Some chapters are very specific (e.g. Ch. 18 - A Model Leader: Leadership in Nehemiah); others are more broad (e.g. Ch. 20 - A Concept Study: Leadership in New Testament Greek). In the forward, Ronald Hawkins says, “More dangerous and disconcerting is the realization that all too frequently books on leadership that become very popular advance views on leadership that are totally antithetical to the clear teachings of scripture.” The books seeks to steer clear of that error.
Second, I appreciate the sound theologians who were recruited to contribute to this work. Names like Tremper Longman, Stanley Porter, Bill Mounce, Andreas Kostenberger, Benjamin Merkle and others jump off the page.
Finally, this book is geared toward pastors and ministry leaders but is not inaccessible to the layman as the chapters are relatively brief and the Greek and Hebrew are transliterated.
If you are looking for a popular-level book to breeze through as you’re dozing off at night, this is not that book. But if you’d like to dig deeper into what the scriptures say about leadership, this is a solid volume to turn to.
Note: This book was provided free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.
Theology is crucial for the church to rightly understand and worship God. As regularly as I can, I encourage believers to study the deep truths of God’s Word and be willing to expend the mental and spiritual energy necessary to understand Bible doctrine. Topics such as God’s sovereignty, justification or the authority of Scripture do not belong to academia along but are pertinent to a Christian’s walk with Jesus Christ.
If knowing theology is important, teaching it is as well. And that’s where Gregg Allison’s book comes it. This book, like none other that I’ve come across, succinctly summarizes 50 Christian doctrines and helps the teacher understand how to clearly communicate these truths. For a summary of Bible doctrines, I often turn to J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. While Allison’s work certainly won’t nudge Packer’s out of my library, I do really enjoy the layout (something Baker Books does not always do well), the teaching outline and resource recommendations provided in Allison’s volume.
Each of the 50 chapters begin with a helpful summary of the doctrine followed by bullet points of the main themes and a list of scriptures supporting that topic. Each chapter is composed of three sections:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah (Psalm 46:1–3, ESV)
God's Word teaches that Jesus is a "very present help in trouble." It does not say that God is a "kind-of" help or a "far-off" help
He is very present. He is here. His presence is genuine. His help is beyond powerful.
How does he do this for his people?
When I see the names of scholars such as D.A. Carson, Doug Moo, Bill Mounce and Daniel Wallace attached to a scholarly work, I sit up and take notice. These and other fine scholars commend this little book, as would I. This is not a popular level book that will appeal to the masses. Rather this is a book specifically for those wishing to jump from basic Greek to becoming a more proficient reader of the Greek New Testament.
The Handy Guide to Difficult and Irregular Greek Verbs is exactly as the title claims. It provides vocabulary aids for those transitioning out of beginning Greek but stumble over the irregular and not-so-common verb forms. As I mentioned, this little book is a great reference for those beginning to read the Greek New Testament.
Part one helpfully makes a list of all the irregular verbs occurring 10 or more times and organizes them by frequency. Part two provides and alphabetical list of verbs and includes their compounds. The appendices give further help in handling the irregularities of Greek language.
I appreciated the books brevity and easy to read layout. Many reference tools are clunky and so poorly laid out to be much good. Furthermore, many "handy guide" style books are so filled such basic Wikipedia-esque information that they are practically worthless. What I appreciated about The Handy Guide to Difficult and Irregular Greek Verbs was it's perfect combination of brevity and genuine practicality.
For those working to get proficient in Greek, this tool would pair well with A Reader’s Greek New Testament.
Please Note: I received the book for free from Kregal in exchange for an unbiased review.
n our Sunday night Bible Study at church, we jokingly call Study Bibles (SB) “cheater” Bibles for their ability to provide on-the-spot answers to tricky questions. But the truth is, Study Bibles are a gift to the church and they are welcome blessing to any Christian’s library.
But there are many to choose from and it can be a little challenging to navigate many selections floating around there on Amazon. I did a quick survey of these reference works on my shelf (both physical books and electronic) and made a list. It is by no means exhaustive but here’s a short summary of their strengths and weaknesses.
ESV Study Bible
This is my go-to SB. If I was trapped on a desert island with only one book, the answer, of course, is the Bible. But if the rules allow me to modify my choice, I would take this beauty. The combination of notes, articles, commentary, background info, theology, maps and charts with my favorite Bible translation makes this one unbeatable. The notes are doctrinally solid. Very solid and as deep as a SB is going to go. And the graphics are second to none. Throw in the online version free and you had me at, well, free.
CSB Study Bible
This recently-published Bible is a solid addition to the Study Bible lineup. Its detailed notes, maps, beautiful photos, and word studies along with a very readable translation make this one of my new favorites.
The Reformation Study Bible
This Bible is strong on theology and packed with notes, though quite weak in background information and graphics. The variety of free electronic resources that are unlocked with the print version make this SB even more appealing.
The ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible
I recently received this Bible as a gift and have been greatly enjoying it. This SB is packed with fantastic articles and clear explanations of important Bible doctrines, while showing where those doctrines turn up in various texts.
Archeological Study Bible
This reference work includes cultural and archeological background that most of the other SB’s only mention in passing. What it lacks in commentary, the Archeological Study Bible makes up for in visually transporting you to the Holy Land.
Gospel Transformation Study Bible
The focus of this SB is the Gospel. It endeavors to show “Christ in all of Scripture and God’s transforming Grace for all of Life.” Therefore the study notes center around those very topics. While short on other SB features such as maps, charts and background, it is strong on application and points us faithfully to Christ.
The Scofield Reference Bible
The original SB courtesy of Cyrus Ingerson Scofield. This one’s a bit outdated and appeals to a very specific theological persuasion – the classic dispensationalist. It really doesn’t hold up to modern SB’s (even the updated version); however, it was groundbreaking in its day and pairs very well with the Ryrie Study Bible and Clarence Larkin’s charts.
The NKJV Study Bible
This is not a bad SB with some useful word studies and notes, however not as graphically pleasing as others and does not possess a great deal of theological depth. Plus I just don’t use the NKJV all that much.
Faithlife Study Bible
Some very good graphics in both the electronic (Logos Bible Software) and print format. A little more theologically general than I like, but includes some very helpful notes. The electronic version is free with most Logos Bible Software packages.
The Life Application Study Bible
This was one of the first SB’s our family owned and is a very accessible and well-laid-out volume. The notes and book introductions are very readable and I appreciate the character studies. However, difficult passages are watered down some as attempts to appeal to a broad evangelical audience and lacks the doctrinal oomph I would like.
The Apologetics Study Bible
As the title suggests, this Bible has a very specific focus. This will serve you if you are looking to know how to better defend the faith but is not strong on commentary or graphics.
The NIV Proclamation Bible
The focus of this Bible is unique – to help Bible teachers and preachers understand, apply and communicate the text. It lacks commentary notes, but contains some very good articles.
The NIV Lifehacks Bible
This SB contains articles/devotions designed to strengthen spiritual habits and disciplines. Not a typical SB in that it does not contain commentary or background information.
Two other SB’s that I do not own but have heard are solid are the NIV Study Bible and the Macarthur Study Bible. The former has many good notes but they are designed to appeal to a broad Christian audience. The latter is doctrinally robust, contains a number of charts, and appeals to a reformed dispensational audience. Additionally, both David Jeremiah and Chuck Swindoll have released SB’s in recent years. I have not personally perused either of these works but respect these men and their ministries.
Check out this link for a helpful chart summarizing some of these Bibles.