Book Review: Taking God Seriously by Stuart Briscoe

Lately, my Bible reading has taken me through the Old Testament particularly the Minor Prophets. As I meditate to these books I was amazed on how the Holy Spirit reveals to me important lessons from God. One might say that those books are filled with prophetic messages and God’s anger. But if you will dig deeper and prayerfully read to the books you’ll be amazed like me to find doctrine, salvation, Christian living abound in every pages of the Minor Prophets. So please dont neglect reading those books.

In “Taking God Seriously”, Stuart Briscoe painstakingly unpacks the message of who God really is and what Christians should do about it not in Romans or Psalms but in the Minor Prophets section. Yes! Make no mistake about it. As Briscoe puts it on the introduction, Minor Prophets does not correspond minor significance.

Christians have you ask yourself if you are truly serious about God and if you’re truly serving Him faithfully? Many of us are thinking God is good (which He is), but do you know that God is jealous and angry if we focus more on what the world can offer and forgetting Him. But God is patient and he gives us opportunity to make our path right and reject our evil deeds. God is exactly enough for us, and with that we should be in focus to Him and his will to us.

The book reminds me of Vernon McGee and Warren Weirsbe commentary of the the Bible. If you enjoy devouring works of those two prolific authors this book will find a place in your heart. Briscoe’s insights is easy to read but will plunge you to a deeper understanding on taking God’s business seriously.

You might find it hard to pronounce names like Habakkuk, Zephaniah or Obadiah, but this book by Stuart Briscoe will spell it out what God wants from your life.

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The God-Driven Unity Part 2

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord. Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, (Haggai 1:12-14 KJV)

God’s Part

3.) A promise – in verse 13 God promise ” I am with you, saith the Lord…” We need to claim this because God made the promise. If man made the promise, man may break his promise. But God made the promise. Its unbreakable. Whatever the church do being in unity, God promise He will be there.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20 KJV)

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 KJV)

4.) Spirit-filled – this is the most important essence of this God-driven unity. This will make or break the church. We need to be spirit filled. We need guidance of the Holy Spirit. Verse 14 “And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people…” Why did God stirred the spirit of those people? Why do we need as Christians help from the Spirit of God? Look at Haggai 1:9:

Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. (Haggai 1:9 KJV)

Because they are lazy. The remnant are slothful. Do you see yourself in them? Having the power of the Holy Spirit we are enable to do spiritual things that mere human effort cant do. We are limited. We are weak. We need something the will enable us to work and accomplish the things of God. Praise the Holy Spirit that he will give us such strength. Unity comes not in the best ministry practices or methods, programs, books and seminars. It is the enabling of the Spirit to stir us up to unite as one church on the move for something big for God.

Taming the Tongue: Delighting Grace Interviews Matthew C. Mitchell

I love it when I get to interview authors of books that really matters for Christians. Not just helping to make some buzz out of it, but also view the author and the book in a different angle that will glorify God and edify believers. This time around, Ptr. Matthew answers some questions about himself and his book “Resisting Gossip”.

Delighting Grace: Pastor Matthew, thank you for this opportunity. You wrote a book that is kind of a “novelty” if compare to other works. Some will take on subjects like doctrine of grace or leadership. So why a book about gossip?

Matthew C. Mitchell: Thanks, Nitoy, for having me on your blog!
Yes, it’s true that there aren’t that many other books on the problem of gossip–and yet it’s something that we all deal with nearly every single day! So, it seemed to me that Christians needed a book like Resisting Gossip to answer the sticky questions that we all have and help us to get unstuck. I wanted to address questions like:
What is gossip?
How do you know when you’re gossiping?
What makes it wrong?
What do you do if you are the target of a malicious whispering campaign?
Why do we gossip?
How do we stop doing it?
The Bible has answers for those questions, but not enoughChristians know them. Hopefully, readers of Resisting Gossip will now be better equipped to recognize, resist, and respond to gossip in every day life.

Delighting Grace: You acknowledge people from CCEF in the book. So how was it like being under the wings of David Powlison, Ed Welch etc? Who among them really influence you in pastoral ministry?

Matthew C. Mitchell: Yes, I have been profoundly influenced by the ministry of CCEF, especially the faculty like David and Ed. It started with reading their books and blogs, but eventually I had the chance to study directly with them in the Doctor of Ministry program at Westminster Theological Seminary. I had always said that if I did a D.Min, I’d want it to be a “doctorate in wisdom.” I already had my dream job. I wasn’t doing a doctoral program to build my credentials or to make a career move–I just wanted to grow in wisdom. To me, the CCEF model of biblical counseling and sanctification is wisdom–truth applied to life.

I’m sure glad that I did! Taking classes at WTS was like drinking from the fire-hose. For two weeks back-to-back, we took classes in waves from Professors Powlison, Lane, Welch, Emlet, and Smith for 10 hours a day! We did that two years in a row and then researched and wrote our projects. My favorite part was getting up close to the faculty and being able to ask more in-depth questions. It’s a privilege to have gotten to know them better. I’m especially thankful for Winston Smith’s oversight of my doctoral project on gossip and Ed Welch’s encouragement throughout the process and writing the foreword for Resisting Gossip.

Delighting Grace: Wow thats amazing. You said in your book that your church is not a gossiping church. So will your approach or perspective with the book differ if your church has this nasty habit?

Matthew C. Mitchell: Good question. What I meant by that was that I didn’t have to write it from a difficult vantage point–it wasn’t written to solve our problems at Lanse Free Church, so I didn’t have to guard my words or worry that I was writing out of my frustrations or hurt. Hopefully that makes it even more helpful for a pastor whose church is embroiled in gossip. My hope is that the book is full of biblical teaching that can be directly applied whether or not a particular church is in conflict.
In fact, the book is not written primarily for pastors–but for ordinary Christ followers. The primary audience I had in mind was ordinary Christians who didn’t want to fall into the sin of gossip, but didn’t know how to resist. There is a also bonus chapter for church leaders on how to cultivate a gossip resistant church family.
I’m pleased to be hearing from pastors whose churches have been helped already by reading the book.

Delighting Grace: Some may say that gossip viewed in the work place or in church involves particularly women. What’s your comment on that?

Matthew C. Mitchell: Women definitely struggle with this temptation! That’s why Paul left instructions about gossipy ladies in the pastoral epistles (1 Tim 3:11, 5:13, Titus 2:3, etc).
But it’s not only women who are tempted by gossip either. It was the out-of-work brothers in Thessalonica who were idle and being busybodies (2 Thess 3:11). Gossip is a temptation for both genders.
I think that people who are more wordy are more prone. In our marriage, I’m the talker. I have twenty times more words than my wife does, and I’m twenty times (or more) more tempted to gossip than she is. “When words are many, sin is not absent, buthe who holds his tongue is wise” (Prov 10:19), and that’s true for both men and women.

Delighting Grace: A pastor once said to me, Christians sometimes are worse in gossiping than unbelievers. Any insight on that opinion?

Matthew C. Mitchell: I don’t know. I can’t point to any social science data toeither support or refute that claim. I can say that we Christians should certainly know better and do better.

Delighting Grace: Thank you Ptr. Matthew. It so great to have this interview with you. Now its time to invite our readers to get you book and log on to your blog.

Matthew C. Mitchell: Thanks! My blog is matt-mitchell.blogspot.com, and the book is available in lots of places including CLC Philippines.

Delighting Grace: Any parting words for the readers out there?

Matthew C. Mitchell: It was enjoyable interacting with you, Nitoy. Thanks for the opportunity to tell others about Resisting Gossip. As we grow in Him, may the Lord grab hold of our hearts and keep a reign on our tongues!

Delighting Grace: Pastor Matthew’s book “Resisting Gossip” is a great read. Its available online at http://www.clcphilippines or go to your nearest CLC Bookshop, PCBS, OMF Lit shops and National Bookstore. If you read the book, say Hi to him by dropping an e-mail or checking his blog. I Would like to leave you guys a familiar passage in the Bible that has something to do with gossip:

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. “(James 3: 6 KJV)

4 Websites That Offers Awesome Christian Facebook Covers

Want to make a Christian statement at Facebook. Well preach the gospel first, then put some Facebook covers that stand for Christ!

Depraved Wretch – DW gain much mileage in Facebook because of superb graphics and of course, Facebook covers. DW boast on Calvinist quotes and Bible verses that sends not just inspiring messages but reinforce the Christian faith.

My Bible – aside from their Bible app, My Bible also offers great facebook covers. Their are tons of eye candy covers to choose from.

FB Cover Lover – a secular facebook cover site but dishes out excellent Christian quotes and Bible verses.

99 Covers – like FB Cover Lover, its not a Christian owned but nevertheless, the Bible verses covers are amazing!

Any more websites you can share. Please post it on the comment section.

The Sovereignty of God in our Asking Part 3

So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. (1 Samuel 1:9-11 KJV)

But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever. (1 Samuel 1:22 KJV)

2.) The only acceptable prayer is that those possessing it temporary, is preparing for it for bigger things. Possessing it is not not the end in itself. Whatever blessings we get from our Creator through prayer is temporary. Money, health, wisdom etc ends in earth. But those things are in preparing for something big according to God’s plan. Hannah in verse 22, may have little Samuel, but in those short time she is preparing him for God. And who Samuel became? A prophet of God. He anointed King Saul and King David. Their is a greater purpose and greater cause behind it. And the lesson is:are we looking at what we possess as temporary, but looking at it that it has a greater good, that is why God gave it to us?

Conclusion:

Christians look at what God did after Hannah fervent prayer. God bless Hannah with more than she have asked:

And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The Lord give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the Lord. And they went unto their own home. And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:20, 21 KJV
)

Do you want to be bless by God? Be courageous like Hannah in your prayer.

The God-Driven Unity Part 1

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord. Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, (Haggai 1:12-14 KJV)

Do you know how to have a successful church and ministry life? We need unity. Not just unity in terms that their is something to be done but in terms of who is in control of our unity. We need a God-driven unity for our church to move forward and grow. Looking at our text we can see how God can show us believers what it means to have this kind of unity. Before we can harness this we should know our part. Like in the story, the main characters are Zerubbabel the governor, Joshua the high priest and the remnant. They want to accomplish what God wants them to do. That is to rebuilt the temple of God. Church, what are trying to accomplish? Is it a building project, a goal to win more souls or send out a mission team? What ever it is does it have a God-driven unity to finish the task.

So how do we cultivate a God-driven unity among Christians? We have four under two important character for harnessing this unity:

Our Part

1.) Obedience – we read in verse 12 that they obey the Lord’s voice through his messenger. We need to be obedience to what God wants us to do. He is the one who will reveal the things to accomplish and therefore we need to give heed to what He wills us. Anothe key to obey is “faith”. Do we have faith that our unity will come to pass? Do we have faith enough to go forth and be of use to God?

2.) Reverence – holy fear to God. “Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord…” Do we really obey, prove our loyalty and highly esteem God? The CEV version renders it “and they started showing proper respect for the God.” If we are showing proper respect to God and lets add, our church leaders, we will desire a unity that is anointed by God. If we are not looking for it sadly we are not giving proper respect to God and the ministers of the church. God made the church as a unifying body of believers to accomplish godly task.

A Jerubbabel cant accomplish it alone. A Joshua cant finish it as a loner. A remnant cant do it all by themselves without a leader. We they need each other to rebuilt the temple. How much more to us as a church. We need each other to reach a goal. We need a God-driven unity.

(To be concluded next week…)

The Sovereignty of God in our Asking Part 2

So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. (1 Samuel 1:9-11 KJV)

In view of Hannah’s heart and soul plead to God, here are two points to consider to have an acceptable prayer and a prayer that magnifies God’s sovereignty:

1.) The only acceptable prayer is that no matter how we badly show that God will be the one who will greatly gain from it. Hannah in her desperation, vowed a vow to God that if she will have a son, she will dedicate it to God. How many of us would do that? After we prayered for it for days, months, and maybe years, now having receiving it will we just give it back to God? If you look at the text we have, Hannah is willing to give back her son to God amd serve the temple “all the days of his life…”. Do you find yourself in Hannah? But isnt it the one who gave the blessing we have is God? Isnt these blessings bestowed to us due to the fact that Christ brought it as a promise to us. Therefore, isnt ot fitting that God should be the one who benefit from our request?

(To be concluded next week…)

Book Review: Running on Empty by Jill Briscoe

A book that lets you go dive in to the lives of Biblical personalities and how God dealed with them in their predicaments. You might find the usual characters like Elijah, David, Moses and Jonah but added some interesting figures like Leah, Naomi and Habakkuk. “Running on Empty” tackles aspects of the Christian life were we think we feel we are giving up. Have you been rejected, burned out, busy, or suffering? This book shows how God lovingly touches us in situations that we cant seem to get up. Jill Briscoe did a lot of justice on bring these character to light for Christians to see themselves to them. Added to the already great book are lovely poems by Jill Briscoe that are in line with the theme. The poems are like foam on your coffee which make its special.

As I thumb through the pages, the book and the theme reminds me of Chuck Swindoll’s study guides or Woodrow Kroll’s messages. Well the Briscoes do have this similarities to Swindoll or Kroll their writing ministry which equates an easy to understand and practical book. So expect that this book will be like that.

So guys if you’re running out of gas, heres a book that will fuel you up with God’s important lessons to go on. Running on Empty provides that extra mile for people who are at the end of their ropes. A recommended read for those who are willing to lets go of their strength and let God in the driver seat. Get this book at the nearest CLC Bookshop, PCBS or National Bookstore. You can buy in online at http://www.clcphilippines.com. Happy reading guys!

Marianito “Nitoy” Gonzales is a 34 years old introvert who’s passion is to proclaim the bad news about God. He’s a goverment employee but his church and digital life is more colorful because of Christ. You can reach him at his Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

The Sovereignty of God in our Asking Part 1

So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. (1 Samuel 1:9-11 KJV)

Prayer is a moment that a Christian handles to God his petitions. It could be a financial need, healing, and guidance to be lin line with His will. Whatever it maybe we come to God to ask that if its favorable in His eyes, we maybe granted with what we are seeking. In this lesson we will look at Hannah as she plead to God to give her a son. In view of this let me point our certain truths that Hannah or any Christian might be aware or not aware of. These two truths are:

a.) The ends of every petition of a believer is not getting it in itself, but giving it back to God and Him getting the glory.

b.) God is in control in whatever we ask to Him.

With that thought in mind, we go now to Hannah’s prayer to God. So now, how did Hannah magnify God’s sovereignty to her prayer? In her sea of desperation, how can we draw the pearl of God’s providential hands to it? And since we want those two truths be an ingredient to our prayer life, what can we do to fulfill that aim? What will be the acceptable and magnifying at the same time to God in prayer?

(To be continued next week…)

The Gospel at Home: Delighting Grace Interviews Matthew B. Sims

I got all excited when NoiseTrade, that popular website that offers free and legal album downloads, rolled its offering of free e-books. So I did a book downloading spree from that website. What I didn’t expect is to download a great book titled “A Household Gospel” from Matthew B. Sims. Not only that I get to read it but I got connect with Matthew through Facebook. We got to chat about his married life, the gospel and his book “A Household Gospel”.

Delighting Grace: Hi Matthew, before you got married and had a family, what did you in preparing for that chapter in your life?

Matthew SimsWhat I did was read a dozen or so books. Looking back, I wouldn’t recommend doing that. It’s information over load and a lot of is overly idealistic. I had no idea practically that marriage would be so hard. Maybe I ignored people telling me this, but I just don’t remember hearing this a lot. Marriage is a practice in mortification of sin.

Delighting Grace: What are the impact that you had when you entered the married life?

Matthew Sims: The biggest impact has been my understanding of repentance. I think it’s Luther that says that all of the Christian life is repentance. Within any home that’s more true than ever. Sinners living in closer quarters with other sinners. Daily sinning and daily in need of repentance. You get that rhythm of repentance in your home whether you’re married or living with a roommate and you’re not far off from a household gospel.

Delighting Grace: In your book “A Household Gospel” you point out as the title suggest, we should apply the gospel for our families. Many Christians has this thinking that its our pastors duty to preach the gospel or Christian living to them and family will just do some devotionals. Whats your comment on that?

Matthew Sims: That’s a great question. It’s important to find a church where the pastors is preaching the gospel, but if your view of your responsibility is limited to reading a devotional in Our Daily Bread than your sanctification will likely be stunted. I talk about this in the book, I believe in chapter 3, but we must see what we do in church (gathered community) as preparing us for rehearsing the gospel in our daily life as we are scattered. That means we must actively engage God in all aspects of our life and actively rehearse the gospel from the moment we wake up to the moment we lie down.

Delighting Grace: Reading your book “A Household Gospel” I find it biblical and very personal. You gave yourself in every page of the book. How was the process of writing the book?

Matthew Sims: It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. If I’m honest, if I knew how difficult it was going to be I’m not sure I would have had the courage to even start the project. Thankfully God gives grace and strength. We also have gifts with talents and skills as His image bearers. The most difficult thing for me was making sure I was satisfied with the quality (from writing to design) of the book. Technology has made self publishing so easy.

Delighting Grace: You wrote the book specifically for the family in understanding and applying the gospel. I’m single right now and I want to know what are the benefits of it to me if a pick up your book?

Matthew Sims: This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get. A Household Gospel is geared towards families, but the core principle is something every believer should implement in their life. For singles, you must still make certain that the gospel is at the center of our daily life. Even though you may not have a family yet to take care of, you still have your own spiritual health and also friends and family that you can rehearsing the gospel with and that’s no less important.

Delighting Grace: Many Christian fathers may be reading your book and having problems with their teenager oson or daughter. So is it too late for them to apply what you have shared in the book? What are the advice you can give to those people in those situation?

Matthew Sims: Not at all. It’s never too late. The most important thing would be to stop and repent. Undoubtedly as sinners, there’s been sin committed both ways. Unequivocally and without expectation of reciprocation humble yourself in front of your kids and repent of the sin you have committed–even if it’s small. Tell them you love them no matter what and share how God is changing your own heart.  Practice this regularly with your not only this family member, but also your other family members. Last, just ask the Spirit boldly to change hearts.

Delighting Grace: So please invite our readers to pick up your first book “A Household Gospel” and check out your blog?

Matthew Sims: I’d be happy for any of you to pick up “A Household Gospel”. My hope is to help people expand their vision for how the gospel intersects with your daily life. It’s an focus I’ve found missing in my church experience and from the feedback I’ve received I think others are resonating with that as well. My home blog is www.graceforsinners.com. I do weekly book reviews so if you’re an avid reader you’ll definitely want to stop by. My goal is just to help Christians find books that are solid and save you some footwork in finding them. I also talk a lot about the gospel from a big picture point of view.

Delighting Grace: Thank you Matthew for your time. The book as I have said is available at NoiseTrade. If you enjoyed this interview and your craving for more please get his book. Be sure to leave a tip. Also his blog is something to check out. I definitely gonna visit often. So whether it be on book or blog, enjoy what Matthew is dishing out.

Marianito “Nitoy” Gonzales is a 34 years old introvert who’s passion is to proclaim the bad news about God. He’s a goverment employee but his church and digital life is more colorful for because of Christ. You can reach him at his Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.