Book Review: “Rooted” by J. A. Medders and Brandon D. Smith

The title “Rooted” gives me the impression that this is just a “one cool word” books that are already out in the market. What got me excited is the subtitle “Theology for Growing Christians”.  So this short book is about theology. Actually they call this a “primer” that deals with the basics doctrine of Christianity. So this book doesn’t cover all the doctrines that we believers affirm.

As I read “Rooted” I can assure you that Smith and Medders really delivers and does connect the message to the readers. They know what they are saying and they can convey it in the manner that show the book is enough to be a primer and meaty enough to have great content. Medders provided an easy to digest and accessible explanations similar to his previous book “Gospel Formed” (which you should check it out too). They dropped the ivory tower jargons with millennial-friendly words which can reach believers (and unbelievers as well) whether new or seasoned.

Chapter 1 discusses the Trinity and how Godhead relates to each other. Chapter 2 zooms in the reliability of Scriptures. But I really enjoyed chapters 3 and 4 which tackle about the gospel and eschatology.

“Rooted” is the go to book to learn, unlearn and relearn about some of the basic doctrines that Christians believe. If you’re just starting or already ahead in your Christian journey and you want some map, pick this book up.

My verdict: 4.5 out of 5.

The authors of “Rooted” provided me a review copy of the book.

More book reviews here: https://delightinggrace.wordpress.com

4 Must Read Books on Prayer

Prayer is a Christian duty of praising, confessing, and petitioning to God. Many (including me) struggle with prayer. But there are books out there that encourage us to pray powerfully. Here is my list of the best read about praying:

1. Prayer: Asking and Receiving by John Rice- the first book I read about prayer. This book is soaked with powerful Biblical teaching and personal experience on praying. Simply engaging read.

2. In Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray– a classic from this Reformed pastor. Teaches that we should be humbly willing to be a student in prayer and asking Jesus to teach us the basics of it. It’s a not so easy read but the content is tremendously inspiring.

3. Power Through Prayer by E. M. Bounds– I think this book is a sermon turned into a book. This book belongs to a collection books of Edward McKendree Bounds on the subject on prayer. This one stands out for me. I find this book preaching not only to the people of the pew but also on the pulpit. Truly soul stirring. Great book!

4. How to Pray by R. A. Torrey- Torrey exhorts us the not just how to pray but the importance of praying in different circumstances. Very basic but very helpful.

Do you have a book about prayer in mind? Please post it on the comment section.

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6 Things the Gospel is NOT

Here are some common misconceptions about the gospel today. If Jesus Christ will ask you what the gospel is, what will your reply will be?

  1. The gospel is NOT about going to heaven– that’s half the story. The gospel is getting God Himself and making much of Him.
  2. The gospel is NOT about good works– good works salvation nullifies the saving grace of God and gives man warrant to boast there achievement to the face of His Creator. If salvation by works is true, then how much work does it need for you to be saved?
  3. The gospel is NOT about religion– I hear a lot of people taking about religion as if their religion suffered and died on the cross. Religion was mention a few times in the Bible sometimes in a negative light and has nothing to do about salvation. For those people I direct you to Psalms 22 and 53.
  4. The gospel is NOT about prosperity– many popular preachers today preach that if you accept Jesus you will be wealthy and healthy. That’s good but it’s unbiblical. Also you’ll end up blaming God for not having what you want.
  5. The gospel is NOT having good character– humility, selflessness, altruism are by means good traits. Man should have these characteristics. But that is not the gospel and it won’t even guarantee you everlasting life.
  6. The gospel is NOT about you– the gospel is all about Christ. It’s about God’s mercy and grace. You don’t have any part from election to glorification.

So what is the gospel? The gospel is about Jesus Christ and his finished work in the cross. You can’t add or lessen it. All you have to do is accept it as a gift. Looking at yourself by God’s standard (The 10 Commandments) you find that you can’t measure up. God is holy and just. And you’re not. God call it sin. It’s our rebellion against Him. Every sin we committed (will commit) deserves eternal separation. That’s why there is hell. But God is so rich in mercy he made a way for us to be saved. He sends Jesus Christ to die on our behalf that we might stand blameless before God. We don’t deserve mercy. God won’t accept you unless you repent and believe the gospel.  Cry for His mercy today. You won’t be guaranteed another day.

(Originally from my Facebook Notes, 1 September 2011)

Getting to the Core of the Book

We love to devour those juicy read apples. Those crispy and luscious fruit we love to sink our teeth in. But we don’t go to the core. We throw it away because it’s worthless. But not with your books. We may consume the whole book without noticing the core. When I mean the core of the book it is the central part of the book that is where the whole theme of it is located. It is where the main lesson is placed then every other chapter or parts of it will be the sub-lessons. Like a movie, the core is the lead actor and others are the supporting cast. You can pull it out and the book will lose its relevance. You take it out and it will stand alone as if it’s the essence of the whole book.

In romance novels the good part or the most read is the most dent spine, most mess up page and the almost worn out. Once an author made that observation because the good part, according to her contains the love scenes. That’s why it’s the most read. But let’s not get into the romance novels, I think you got the point. The core is the main component of the book. If you’re keen enough in reading you will notice that part. Sometimes it’s the make or break of the book.

I pointed this out because of two books that came to my mind. One is from J. Oswald Sanders “Enjoying Intimacy With God” and “Courageous Leadership” by Bill Hybels (which by the way, I might mention here in this blog but with caution and discernment). Years ago I found in the internet a good lesson by Sanders titled “Circles of Intimacy of God” which became a tremendous help for our ministry. What I didn’t know is that its part of that book I mention. I got a copy of the book and with the look of things it is the core of it. Other parts are essential but you can see the first chapter tackling the four circles of intimacy carries the book itself. Another hand out titled “The Art of Self-Leadership” by Bill Hybels which I found in a campus ministry website, is a valuable and I would love to share to our young people. As of recent I found out it is chapter of a book on leadership by Hybels. Again the book is great but that chapter which I dig out as a handout stands by itself making its core.

I’m not here to make you core hunters and suck all the fun in your reading. That’s the real reason we should pick up the book. First is to inform us then for our enjoyment. But knowing the core of the book can be helpful in many ways. It saves us time or money to go on to the next book. We can dissect the core from a truly boring book and get all the nutrients. We can easily share it because we are giving the good part already. Handouts can be made. Lots of great things in store in finding the core.

Have you found the core of the book your reading now? I would love to know your comments on this topic.

Used Book Finds: Unafraid to Be by Ruth Etchells

You got to thank IVP (Inter Vasity Press) for putting books that are responding to contemporary inquires (or sometimes attacks) to Christianity. They are one of those publications on the frontlines of defending the faith. The last book I read from them is “The Dawkin’s Delusion” by Alister McGrath.  I never thought they have this reputation of putting unique books on apologetics. I’ve found this book titled “Unafraid to Be” by Ruth Etchells (IVP, London) 1st edtion 1969. Subtitled ” a Christian Study of Contemporary English Writing” book examines contemporary literatures and the arts that, not only tries to answer mans spiritual questions, (Who am I? Why am I here for? etc.,) but undermines the truth found in the Bible. Prominent figures mentioned in the book are Arthur Miller, John Le Carre, Alfred Camus, Jean Paul Satre, William Gooding (author of Lord of the Flies), Kingsley Amis, D. J. Enright, John Osborne, Graham Greene and others.  So the next time you visit BookSale check out books by IVP and you’ll be in for a treat…

Book Review: The Attributes of God: A Journey into the Father’s Hear Vol. 1 t by A.W. Tozer

It’s such a blessing to be able to read great books. I got two of them last week at PCBS (Philippine Christian Bookstore). One is “The Attributes of God” by A.W. Tozer and the other is the much anticipated book by John Piper simply titled “Think”. I’ll post a book review on Pipers book by next week, but for now, let’s put “The Attributes of God” into the fray.

When books about doctrine comes to our minds we dismiss it as an avalanche of cold theological jargons ready to make rampage which those made of steel theologians on ivory towers will appreciate. But not with this book by Tozer. Leaping out of the beginning pages are his joy over these attributes. I think Tozer, when delivering these series of sermon (for which this book came), is enthusiastically ecstatic over the pulpit. It’s a surprise for me to find how joy on these subjects from the early chapters of this book. Christian Hedonism anyone?

While the subject of attributes is something hard for us to grasp, Tozer puts forth his fatherly pastoral care in painstakingly letting you comprehend it not just by mind but by your heart. He is gladly serving solid scriptural food but he carefully “mashes” it up for you to easily digest it, without losing its vital “nutrients” essential for the Christian. Being spoon feed by Tozer of these subjects doesn’t let you stay dependent on letting him feed you all the way rather makes you want to grab the spoon and feast on the spiritual meal yourself.

Tozer doesn’t just put forth his fatherly love over this book but still maintain the “20th century prophet” mark in every page. He reproves the church that need to know more about God and be sensitive over Him. Also sprinkled with solid biblical teaching that will reinforce subjects like salvation and many others. Such a sweet blend of these styles of conveying doctrine makes your read a delight for the mind and heart.

Just a reminder though, like any journey there are some uphill climb and rugged terrain for readers. As you walk to chapters you’ll find some of it. However, in the end of it all, a bright horizon awaits everyone who makes patience a virtue. Half of the book is a study guide prepared by David Fessenden.

Notable Quotes:

“Justice is not something that God has. Justice is something that God is.”

“Mercy, however, is God’s goodness confronting human guilt, whereas grace is God’s goodness confronting human demerit.”

“When the grace of God becomes operative through faith in Jesus Christ then there is the new birth.”

“The judgment of God is God’s justice confronting moral inequity and iniquity.”

“The goodness of God is the only valid reason for existence, the only reason underlying all things.”

“If God was willing, it was the happy willingness of God.”

“Christianity is a gateway into God.”

I commend OMF for putting out this book because this kind of truth is badly needed for the church today. We need to know Him more than anything to draw near to Him and find everlasting joy. Available at National Bookstores and Philippine Christian Bookstores for P 250.00 get your copies now.

J. C. Ryle Lives! Delighting Grace Interviews Erik Kowalker of J.C. Ryle Quotes Blog

For those who don’t know, J.C. (John Charles) Ryle is a Puritan preacher known for his writings on different Christian topics. It’s truly a blessing to read old stuff from godly Christians from yesteryear. Delighting Grace (DG) talked to Erik Kowalker blogger of J.C. Ryle Quotes.

Delighting Grace: First off, I just want to say we have something in common: We are bloggers and we post quotes. Where do you draw that passion for blogging and sharing godly wisdom at the same time?

Erik Kowalker: I view blogging as a tool to bless and encourage the universal body of Christ. I’ve enjoyed J.C. Ryle’s writings for several years now, so it’s simply a “labor of love” to provide his quotes on my blog.

 Delighting Grace: For you, what makes a great quote? 

Erik Kowalker: A great quote is one that hits the mind and heart. And the shorter, the better in my book. Folks are so busy (I once heard the average person spends 96 seconds on a website…that’s the average…most spend less.) Folks simply don’t have the time to read paragraph after paragraph so, in my humble opinion, the shorter, insightful quote will penetrate a little more than the lengthy drawn out quote.

Delighting Grace:  I love reading old Puritan works but J.C. Ryle stands out for me. When I’m reading his work, I said to myself, “Is this guy really dead? Am I really reading a hundred year old stuff?” Do you have those thoughts also?

Erik Kowalker: I absolutely understand where you are coming from. J.C. Ryle wrote the majority of his writings in the mid to late 1800’s, yet it is still fresh today. I truly believe Ryle’s writings connect with so many people for this one reason: clarity. Ryle has the uncanny ability/gift to make the difficult things in Christianity/theology so incredibly simple to understand.

DG: If you could recommend one book about J.C. Ryle that I should read, what is it and why?

EK: If you’ve never read anything by J.C. Ryle, I would humbly suggest reading his little 30+ page booklet on The Call to Prayer. It’s encouraging and convicting, all at the same time. It also gives you a feel for Ryle’s style of writing. Then, I would recommend his classic book Holiness, written in 1877, which Ryle is most famous for.

DG: As bloggers we strive to be unique in terms of the content of our blog so it will stand out. In your part what steps do you do to offer something that other blogs don’t have?

EK: I simply offer the works of a dead man whose books have blessed hundreds of thousands of folks over the past century. That is how I strive to be different. I’m just a guy who appreciates John Charles Ryle for his ability to communicate the truths of Scripture so clearly and I’ve decided to share it with the blogosphere.

DG: If J.C. Ryle were alive today and you met him, what would you say to him? What do you think will he say about you blogging his works?

EK: I would stretch out my hand to Ryle and shake it firmly, thanking him for writing with conviction and also, with a sensitive, pastoral heart. From reading Ryle’s biography and observing his personality, I would say that Ryle would probably blush at seeing a website in his name. 🙂

DG: How can our readers get those great quotes from JC Ryle you dish out? Can they find it on Twitter and Facebook?

EK: You can first and foremost visit the J.C. Ryle Quotes site at www.jcrylequotes.com to view over 500 of Ryle’s Christ-centered quotes.
You can follow Ryle on Facebook and also on Twitter. Thanks for the questions. I hope your readers enjoy visiting the site and benefiting from the works of J.C. Ryle.

The Glorious Hope in Prophecy: Nathan Jones of Lamb and Lion Ministries talks to Delighting Grace

It’s our joy to interview Nathan Jones of Lamb and Lion Ministries. Nathan serves as the Web Minister of this prophecy ministry which is lead by Dr. David Reagan. You can check their magazine, articles, and products over Lamb and Lion Ministries. But before you go there, enjoy this interview first:

Delighting Grace: So tell us Nathan, what is prophecy and why is it important?

Nathan Jones: Prophecy, specifically Bible prophecy, is the study of God’s word concerning future events as foretold in the Bible.

Sometimes we look at Bible prophecy that has already been fulfilled, like when Jesus came the first time to earth in fulfillment of 300 general and 109 specific prophecies. Other times we are looking at Bible prophecy as it is being fulfilled today, like Israel becoming a nation again and the Jews returning to Israel as Isaiah 11:11-12 and Ezekiel 37 and other verses said would happen. And, we also look at Bible prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled, like the 500 verses concerning Jesus’ Second Coming.

The gift of prophecy is not the same today as it was when the Apostle John completed Revelation. Today, people with the spiritual gift of prophecy have a passion to share the Good News of Jesus Christ’s salvation with others in the time we have left. They also can discern what the Bible is talking about concerning the end times. They cannot predict what the future is, as God has already given us a full account of what will occur in the Bible.

Delighting Grace: We know the trademarks of cults are false prophecies. Why do they employ prophecies and how did they eventually fall to error?

Nathan Jones: We once interviewed James Walker of Watchman Fellowship. His whole ministry is about dealing with the cults. He was actually a fourth generation Mormon until he studied and realized that Mormonism is a cult. James listed four ways to define a cult:

1. They add to God’s Word with new Scripture.

2. They subtract from who Jesus is.

3. They multiply the requirements for salvation.

4. They divide their follower loyalty.

When it comes to prophecy, cults love to make predictions. I’d say the reason being is that prophecy unites people towards a common goal, and Satan knows how to use false predictions to twist people into keeping their focus away from the one true God.

According to Deuteronomy 18:21-22, a true prophet could be discerned from a false prophet based on the accuracy of their prophecies. A prophet of God will always be 100% accurate.

Cults are formed around false prophets who use Christian terminology to sound Christian, but then redefine the terms to fit their own man-made theology. Cults are easy to spot in that they deny the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, that Jesus is divine as the Son of God, the resurrection of Christ, and promote a works-based salvation. They espouse prophecy and predict times that seldom result in fulfillment. They place man on God’s throne, promising man’s eventual rise to deity which is Satan’s old lie from the Garden of Eden.

Satan and his cults best method of leading people astray is to take a lie and wrap a little truth around it.  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Mat. 7:15).

Delighting Grace: A follow up question: are their guidelines to interpret prophecy correctly without ending up like the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Harold Camping?

Nathan Jones: Yes, for one, stick to the Bible and a literal interpretation. Cults love to make extra-biblical prophecies. Stick with the prophecies found in the Bible and not on any prophecies made by man today.

Secondly, take Jesus at His word in Matthew 24:36. When He says concerning His return, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” then that means NOBODY can predict the timing of Jesus’ return. Cults are notorious for predicting the day of Jesus’ return and the end of the world, and they always end up being proven false.

Delighting Grace: I love Lamb and Lion Ministries. You’re a blessing to me. You’re balanced in the treatment of different subjects. You don’t employ over the top sensationalism on prophecy. You just don’t talk about prophecies but also apologetics. How do eschatology (study of prophecy) and apologetics go hand in hand?

Nathan Jones: I’m so glad to hear Lamb & Lion can be a blessing to you. We try to stay away from anything but the Bible, so avoid sensationalism. There’s no need to sensationalize the Bible, for it’s already filled with fascinating wonders.

Eschatology is the best apologetic. There is no book – none – that has any prophecy that has come true other than the Bible. As I stated earlier, Jesus alone fulfilled 300 general and 109 specific prophecies concerning His First Coming.

 

Mathematician Peter Stoner calculated that the probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled in the life of one person is 1 in 10 to the seventeenth power. That’s 17 zeros! That’d be like filling the entire state of Texas two feet deep in quarters. Mark one and throw it in. Next, drop in a blindfolded man. The odds would be that the very first coin he picks up, that’s the one with the mark. Impossible, right? Well, not if the Bible is truly God’s Word.

That’s the power of Bible prophecy – it proves the Bible is God’s only Word which we can base our faith and life on.

Delighting Grace: How can Christians benefit from prophecy in other aspects of their Christian life say in discipleship or evangelism?

Nathan Jones: Great spiritual riches await anyone who studies Bible prophecy. For one, we know that the Lord can return at any moment to take up – to rapture – those who have accepted Him as Savior to Heaven. How will the Lord find us when He arrives? Will He find us diligently serving Him as were created to do as Ephesians 2:10 says, or will He find us living for ourselves? The study of Bible prophecy convicts us then to live holy and productive lives.

Secondly, by knowing that Jesus is coming soon and that afterwards the world will plunge into the worst time in all of human history called the Tribulation that should motivate Christians to share the Gospel. We don’t want anyone to have to live through the Tribulation, and certainly not go to Hell. Christians need to get out there and give a desperate world the Good News of Jesus Christ. So, Bible prophecy motivates us to evangelize.

Delighting Grace: Your magazine “The Lamplighter” is awesome. I can’t wait to read the next issue. Dr. David Regan’s articles are worth reading. How did your magazine started?

Nathan Jones: It’s great to hear such positive feedback on the Lamplighter magazine. It’s truly a labor of love on Dr. Reagan’s part. The ministry originally produced the publication as a few pages stapled together, and by 1998 began running it in a 20-page magazine format.

 Delighting Grace: Also I’ve noticed how enthusiastic Dr. Reagan in writing and speaking about the subject. How does he influence you being part of the ministry and as a Christian?

Nathan Jones: Spreading the good news about Jesus’ soon return is Dr. Reagan’s passion in life. You can’t help but hear him preach and teach about it and not get excited yourself about the Lord’s soon return. That passion is infectious and has helped so many get excited about our life in Christ.

Delighting Grace: What can we look forward to Lamb and Lion Ministries? I know lots of our readers will be excited to know it.

Nathan Jones: We’re rather hoping not to be here in the coming years, anticipating the Lord’s soon return. The signs of the times show that the time is nearly here.

But, should the Lord tarry, Lamb & Lion Ministries will continue going strong preaching that message until the very last minute through our television show “Christ in Prophecy,” through the Internet, through publications, videos and conferences. We’ve even created a special message called “Jesus Came. What’s Next?” to share the Gospel with those who will be living in a post-Rapture world.

Delighting Grace: Thank you Nathan. More power to Lamb and Lion.God bless you!

8 Important Facts about the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood Person in the Trinity. Sometimes He is the most neglected. So here are some facts you should know about Him:

  1. The Holy Spirit is God- the Holy Spirit is not an “it” or a force from God. He is not the Holy Spirit of Christian Science or “The Shack” novel. He is God Himself. Sadly, people often neglect how important the Holy Spirit is. Some even have a different view of Him contrary to what the Bible reveals.  He is present in creation (Gen. 1:2), He is eternal (John 14:16), He is omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-8), omnipotence (Rom. 15:18-19) and omniscience (John 14:26).
  2. The Holy Spirit illuminates- (John 14:26, Luke 12:12, 2 Pet. 1:21) as believers, He helps us understand the Bible that gives us spiritual food.
  3. The Holy Spirit comforts us- (John 14:16-18) Just like Jesus promise to His disciples on His impending death, He sends us the Comforter, meaning the Holy Spirit, to comfort them while He is gone.
  4. The Holy Spirit convicts- (John 16:8) the Holy Spirit convicts sinners to repentance. To believers God’s Spirit tugs us if we done something wrong that will jeopardize our relationship with God. So don’t grieve the Spirit.
  5. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray-the Holy Spirit teaches us what to pray and even intercede for us (Romans 8:26 also Luke 11:13)
  6. The Holy Spirit seals our eternal salvation- (Acts 2:38, Eph. 4:30, Romans 8:14)God the Father because of His love decreed our salvation, God the Son (Jesus) came to earth to die as a way to our salvation and God the Holy Spirit seals our eternal salvation. It’s called eternal security. It cannot be broken by any sin. We are secured for all eternity.  Are you sealed by the Holy Spirit?
  7. The Holy Spirit gives gifts-As a member of the body of Christ, we have different functions to enable the work of God here on earth possible (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit disposes certain gifts to accomplish that task. Some of the abilities are ceased to be used (like speaking in tongues, prophecy, dreams, healing) but that doesn’t mean the Spirit isn’t giving gifts to believers today. The power to preach (1 Cor. 2:13), to lead people to Christ, giving, praying, giving compassion to the needy, etc. are some examples that the Holy Spirit furnish that God’s work for every believer will be done.
  8. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual fruit- as we walk as Christians yielding to God’s will and purpose, it results lots of different characters in our life. We know He is present in our life because of this evidences. Galatians  5: 22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

(originally from my Facebook Notes September 29, 2011)