Better Than We Deserve

C.J. Mahaney and Dave Ramsey oft reply to the social grace, “How are you?” with “Better than I deserve.” I like that. I thought about copying it, but I think it would come off as insincere because I would probably say it hypocritically most of the time. Some may be down on others saying such statements saying they are down on themselves. My response is twofold: 1. Don’t we have plenty to be down about (i.e. sin)? 2. They are not seeking to be down on themselves are much are they are seeking to be up on Christ.

It was a few weeks ago on a Saturday night. Bethany was cooking supper and I was upstairs trying to balance the checking account. Thirteen cents off! Isn’t amazing how such a minuscule figure can cause such disproportional stress? Any other time I would think thirteen cents insignificant. If something is on sale for thirteen cents off, big deal.  If something cost thirteen cents, no problem. Lose three pennies and a dime, oh well.  But thirteen cents when balancing the books is a major stressor. Then Bethany’s phone rang. A grenade was about to go off in my soul sending my emotions in a thousand different directions.

Our adoption caseworker called saying that they had two brothers, ages two and five, and wanted to know if we would be interested in adopting them. She then proceeded to tell us their story, a story that would melt your heart, but that’s their story. As she told us about the boys we were instantly in love. During the conversation it clicked, I had misdated the interest we had earned that month. How much was it? Yep, thirteen cents. We took some time for the emotional side to calm down and the rational side to process. We called family, consulted our pastor, and prayed to our heavenly Father. Later that evening the sewer backed up in our downstairs half-bath; so while Bethany was calling family, I was called the plumber.

Monday morning we let our caseworker know we were in. The emotional rollercoaster continued for a couple of weeks. Finally, yesterday we found out that it is final, the boys are ours. We will go get them next week. Our heavenly Father has blessed us with two beautiful boys.

We don’t deserve these two boys, they are a blessing. The Christian faith is not about desert, it is about grace. Again, I don’t deserve these two boys. I don’t deserve stress over thirteen cents or a backed up sewer either. I deserve worse. I deserve hell. I deserve wrath. I deserve judgment.

The reason I thankfully don’t get what I deserve is because God gave me something infinitely more valuable than these two sons. He gave me His Son. The Son who took my just deserts so that I might be justified.

So when we say “we don’t deserve this,” it’s not simply because we are down on self, but because we are rejoicing in the bountiful mercy of God to us in Jesus Christ. It’s not because we are negative, or pessimistic, labels I have issues with, but because we are full of joy and overwhelmed by grace. There is greater joy contemplating my Lord’s merits than in deluding myself into thinking I have any of my own.

So pray for these two sinners raising two younger sinners. Pray that the grace of God would be mighty upon us, not because we deserve it, but for His glory.

Don’t Pursue Excellent Worship!

[T]here is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship.  In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself.  Despite the protestations, one sometimes wonders if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God.  As a brother put it to me, it’s a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset.  – D.A. Carson in Worship by the Book

Tolle Lege: The Unquenchable Flame

Readability:  1

Length:  191 pgs

Author:  Michael Reeves

Michael Reeves has written an introduction to the reformation that is fun to read, brief, accurate, and inspiring.  He begins by giving the necessary historical backdrop to understand the reformation, dealing with figures such as John Wycliffe and Jan Huss.  He then goes on to Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin; followed by a look at the reformation in Britain from Thomas Cranmer to the Puritans.   The Unquenchable Flame also includes a helpful timeline and further reading suggestions.  Mark Dever’s endorsement says it best,

With the skill of a scholar and the art of a storyteller, Michael Reeves has written what is, quite simply, the best brief introduction to the Reformation I have read.

The Doctor: The Bible Is Not an Instruction Manuel for Living

‘What then is the Bible about?’ asks someone.  Surely there can be no hesitation about answering that question; the Bible, in its essence, is the grand story of redemption.  It is the history of what God has done about men and women as the result of their sin, and everything else that we find in the Bible is, in reality, incidental to that.  The Bible is concerned with presenting to us the message of redemption by God, and from God, in a way that we can understand and see and believe.  – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible Vol. 1, p. 2

Tolle Lege: Dug Down Deep from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo.

Readability:  1

Length: 234 pgs

Author:  Joshua Harris

Are you looking for a book that would serve as an introduction to theological terms such as: theology, orthodoxy, doctrine, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscient, inerrancy, clarity, sufficiency, the person of Christ, incarnation, atonement, penal substitution, propitiation, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, indwelling sin, spiritual gifts, the church?  Do you also want the book to be practical, applying these doctrines and truths to everyday life?  Do you further desire that the book be deeply honest and personal coming from a humble author giving great illustrations from his own life?  Do you think your desires to be too big to ever be realized?  Read Joshua Harris’ Dug Down Deep.

Harris doesn’t wade in the deep end of the pool, but he helps you to get there and makes you want to dive… or dig.  Theology matters – Harris humbly seeks to convince you of this, and I think he does an excellent job.  If you are new to the Christian faith, or new to that faith being talked about in vibrant, robust theological terms this would be a great theological primer.

But the hardest work of all is putting truth into practice. … Church affiliation and a list of beliefs are never enough.  Doctrine and theology are always meant to be applied to our lives – to shape and reshape not only a statement of faith but also the practical decisions of how think and act.  Book knowledge about building on rock has no value if we’re still resting on shifting sand.

Once when my little brother Isaac was four years old, he grabbed a shovel and headed toward the woods.  My mom asked what he was doing.  He answered, “I’m going to dig for holes.”  The story has become family favorite, and Isaac is tired of having it repeated.  But it’s a good description of what we do when we study and argue over beliefs without putting them into practice.  We’re digging for holes.

We need to dig for rock.


The Doctor: His Blood Is Thicker Than Ours

Can you say quite honestly that you have a deeper affection for, and a deeper understanding of, you fellow Christians that you have for your natural relatives who are not Christians?  That is a very good test of our position as Christian people.  It is a proof of your regeneration, and it is also a proof that you have paid heed to this exhortation and are putting it into practice.  A Christian should feel a closer bond with another Christian than he feels with a relative who is not a Christian.  This is true of necessity.  The new nature is in us.  We are all children of God and belong to the family of God.  And this is a relationship that will not only last while we are in this world of time, but will last throughout eternity.  – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans Vol. 12, p. 352

Tolle Lege: Why We Love the Church

Readability:  1

Length: 234 pgs

Author:  Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

I love Kevin DeYoung’s writing (Ted’s as well, he makes me laugh).  I love that he loves the church, so much so that he wrote a book about it.  This is my favorite DeYoung book alongside Just Do SomethingWhy We Love the Church is an unfortunately an unusual book.  Go to your Christian bookstore and it will be easy to pile up a plethora of books criticizing the church.  Without covering any of her warts this pair of gifted writers wants to remind us of her beauty. 

Kevin spends his time responding to four categories of reasons why the church is not currently loved; the misssiological, personal, historical, and theological reasons.  Ted gives humorous and honest personal reflections in-between.

Kevin has a habit of writing books I recommend a lot, not only because they are so well written, but also because he has written on such pertinent issues.  At a time when so many loud voices are calling for an exodus from the church, DeYoung and Kluck are calling for a return.  May God bless this book toward that end for many.

If decapitation, form the Latin word caput, means to cut off the head, then it stands to reason that decorpulation, from the Latin word corpus, should refer to cutting off the body.  It’s the perfect word to describe the content of this book.  If our editors had been asleep at the wheel, we could have called it Recent Trends in Decorpulation.