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The Message that Never Grows Old

The Message that Never Grows Old In the messiness that is the Christian life, believers tend to major on the minutiae, the pet issues that develop in the heat of debate and render our witness as shrouded in mystery.  We develop intricate points as to what exactly happens to the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, how God’s election takes place temporally, and when exactly Christ will return for his church.  Although the larger issues of the Lord’s Supper, election, and Christ’s return are hugely important for the Christian to understand and believe within his heart and mind, the details of how all these things work often escape our view.  Calvin called entering into these matters speculation.  In the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin writes,
“Not to take too long, let us remember here, as in all religious doctrine, that we ought to hold to one rule of modesty and sobriety: not to speak, or guess, or even to seek to know, concerning obscure matters anything except what has b…
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Feasting at the Table

The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson

The table has always been a lively place that I remember growing up with my parents, brother and sister.  Now, with my own wife and daughter, dinner conversations can turn to amazing, funny, and profound topics.  Sally Clarkson, in her new book, The Life Giving Table shares her heart and experience of table meals, expressing her hopes that the table can become a place of joy and tears, fellowship, feasting, and laughter.

The vision that Sally has comes forth in the first chapter on Tableology.  She writes, “When we sit at our tables, we’re not just an aggregate of individual family members eating and drinking to stay alive; we’re a congregation of communing souls hungering and thirsting to experience the goodness and beauty of the life God has designed just for us” (12).  The table is a sign of God’s beauty and grace, for his communing church.  She writes later about Jesus, “But Jesus didn’t simply use food as a tool in His ministry.  He made it…

Forgiveness and Justice

Forgiveness and Justice: A Christian Approach by Dr. Bryan Maier
Forgiveness at its core involves two people committed to naming and dealing with wrongdoing in a holistic way.  Yet, often we too easily think that a mere ‘I’m sorry’ will suffice for the one who has been hurt by sin and evil.  Dr. Bryan Maier comes to grips with the full weight of forgiveness and justice in his new book entitled Forgiveness and Justice: Christian Approach.  Wanting to engage to engage the best of secular counselors and psychologists but desiring to chart a course that stands firm on the Scriptures, this book is a great work at the intersection of counseling, psychology, and biblical theology. 
In cataloging the levels in which sin causes the most damage, Bryan gets to the basic message of how sin acts upon its victims.  Victims can fall prey to a dangerous situation in which they believe that “there is no such thing as justice after all or a judge who can enforce the law,” thereby increasing the chanc…

The Old Testament Book by Book

A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised, Edited by Miles Pelt
This collection of essays on the books of the Old Testament is a wonderful introduction to gaining wisdom and understanding into the First Testament.  The authors, professors from RTS, from John Currid to Richard Pratt and many more, combine to grant the reader a look into the key theological and literary features of the 39 books of the Old Testament.  With standard categories elucidating the author, setting of the book, and theology, each chapter is full of solid readings of the texts.
With illuminating work and a particular eye toward the details of Genesis, Professor John Currid presents the reader with a focused and clear portrait of the first book of the Bible.  I appreciated John’s keen insight into the concept of the image of God in Genesis.  He writes, “Originally the word meant “something cut from an object,” as, for example, a piece of clay cut from a sculpture.16 In such a case…

Idols and 1 Corinthians 10

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.  15I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.  16Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  17Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.  18Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?  19Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?  20No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.  21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 
22Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he? 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
Idols are not a thing of the past.  We often scoff at the insistence that idols …

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahnd
Students in high school and college have for years been given Jonathan Edwards’ sermon entitled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God to read.  With much frustration and repulsion toward the view of God as an angry judge and tyrant, Brian Zahnd in his new book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God seeks to bring a new view of God to his readers.  Desiring to set for a living concept of God that is rooted in Jesus, Brian wants to get to the heart of the good news for all people.
Early on in the first chapter of the book, Brian recounts how both Edwards’ work and the fundamentalist tracks of J.T. Chick, he asks the question, “does this portrait of God look like Jesus…?”  Brian does evidence the violent actions and depictions of God in the OT, but he submits that this picture of God should be subordinate to the ‘revelation of God seen in Jesus’ (14).  God’s spirit and attitude toward men and women created by him is one of love and mercy, n…

Jesus Eats with Sinners

Eats with Sinners: Loving Like Jesus by Arron Chambers

Realizing that Jesus ate with sinners, emulating and acting out his lifestyle among the sinners of our society is another thing altogether.  Yet, as Pastor Arron Chambers notes, "We must believe people can change" In his new book, Eats with Sinners, Arron outlines the ministry of Jesus as a paradigm for the way Christians should share the the good news with others. Thinking outside the box is Arron's way, and in many times he challenges the status quo of the church with a focus on people coming into the kingdom.  This is a real insightful book with many challenging stories and ideas.

After stating many reasons why both church buildings and clothing can be a obstruction for people coming into the church and hearing the gospel, Arron shares a story that captures the heart of Jesus.  He writes, "One of the most bonding things you can do for your own children is to care about their friends.  Through these dinners we…