Book Review: Recovering Redemption

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2014 in Book review

Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer is both a refreshing and an honest read. Refreshing because they share real life struggles and pursuits. Honest because they show how messy ministry can be – because of sin. But the struggles due to sin and the mess of relationships because of the fall can be overcome when one recognizes the freedom and forgiveness of redemption in Christ. That is what Chandler and Snetzer seek to set forth – and they do so well. From the back cover:

Recovering Redemption, written with a pastor’s bold intensity and a counselor’s discerning insight, takes you deeply into Scripture to take you deeply within yourself, discovering that the heart of all our problems is truly the problem of our hearts. But because of what God has done, and because of what God can do, the most confident, contented person you know could actually be you – redeemed through Jesus Christ.

The book is given in two parts, though they do not break it down as such in the table of contents. The first part is doctrinal, and the subtitles of each chapter demonstrate this. The second half is given between the doctrines of sanctification and perseverance and focuses on the practical. Of course, there is some overlap as they share practical stories in the doctrinal chapters and doctrine is mingled throughout the practical chapters.

This is a book about change, how the gospel changes the heart, once you’ve received Christ and His transforming power. If you are struggling with sin – read it. If you are in bondage to sin – read it. If you’ve never trusted Christ as Lord and Savior, read it. And if you think you’re ok – READ IT! Find out more @

(I received a pre-publication copy of this book from the publisher with a request to review.)

Camp of Champions 2014

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014 in Orphan Care

ABCH logoLast week I had the privilege of attending  Camp of Champions at Shocco Springs. It is a time sponsored by Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes where their foster families, group homes, workers and supporters come together for fellowship. The adults receive training and the kids have a sort of VBS. It is an intense time for all, but one that is profitable for the kingdom of God.

I gleaned much from the seminars this year – but I wanted to pass along a few of the unfortunate yet truthful things I heard from and/or discussed with others:

1)  Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes currently has to refuse 85% of referrals across the state because they don’t have enough homes to provide care. Executive Director Rod Marshall stated that while he is thankful for the 15% they do take in because he knows they are going to good homes, he loses sleep at night not knowing where the other 85% will go. His prayer is that the church would rise up and put the government out of the foster care business. HOWEVER…

 2)  The percentage of children coming into state DHR care from adoptive homes is on the rise. This is tragic, but history often repeats itself. The orphan care emphasis in religious circles is cyclical and is currently on the upswing. Some presume that they are called to bring children into their homes from outside, often thinking they are a lesser Christian if they do not. We need families given to orphan care. All should have a heart to help in some way. We need folks to prayerfully consider bringing these children into their homes. All are called to orphan care – but not all are called to house children. Imagine the horror in a child who has waited for adoption, been taken in, only to be given up again. This breaks my heart.

 3)  There is a hierarchy of “price” for domestic adoption based on race. Yes, prejudice exists even in domestic adoption. White children are the most expensive to adopt, followed respectively by Asian children, Hispanic children, and lastly African American children (who are sometimes free). This too is tragic.

 4)  Finally, I asked one of the social workers how the surge of illegal children crossing the the Mexico/Texas border would affect orphan care. While these children are considered “incarcerated” at present by the government, this administration will have to decide what to do with these illegals – and we don’t know what will happen. These children come from situations in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and other places where they have seen violence such as we will never see. And some have participated in such violence. Childcare services in some states have already been alerted and/or asked to help relieve the pressure and have denied to this point because they simply are not prepared – and may never be – for this difficult situation.

Pray for these children! And pray how you might help children who need God-centered homes, gospel-oriented families, and gospel-focused care.

Thoughtful reflection on T4G from Iain Murray

Edwards’ Resolution #30

Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Resolutions

download30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

This is not a call to higher religion in a cultural sense, nor simply a striving for more religious knowledge. It is not to strive for standing with God but striving because of standing with God. It is striving to please God. It is the pursuit of holiness and godliness. It is the desire to walk in closer communion with Him.

This is also a commitment to “exercise” grace. God has given numerous means by which man might discipline self for the purpose of godliness. Bible intake (reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on, praying through, listening to, and applying God’s Word); prayer (corporately and privately); worship (with emphasis on preaching and teaching of the Word and the right practice of the ordinances); missions & evangelism; and joyful giving — these are but a few of the ways God has provided His grace for us to grow and be conformed to the image of His glorious Son.

And by necessity this is a call to examine ourselves, to evaluate ourselves for progress in our sanctification. Are we “higher” than we were the last week? Examination is not simply for the purpose of finding and killing sin – though that is certainly a part. But as Paul suggests at the Lord’s Table, examination is to remember the grace of forgiveness and the freedom from the bondage to sin that is ours in Christ.

Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.


Thoughts on the Sanctification Debate

Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Keach, Theology

A well-written and truly christocentric analysis of the current, yet historical, debate/controversy (Tullian, Jones, Clark, TGC) by @TomHicksJr.

While you’re there, take time to browse the updated!

Mortification of Sin

Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in Pastoral

In his excellent treatise on Romans 8:13,  The Mortification of Sin, Puritan John Owen wrote, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” A lesser theologian said, “We have met the enemy and he is us” (Pogo comic strip). Sin destroys and the believer must be at work putting it to death, daily. In his book, The Great DivorceC.S. Lewis gives us a good picture of the deception of sin, and the urgency of putting it to death. As they stand at the threshold of heaven, each “Angel” is confronted with something they must give up upon entrance (it is an allegory!). Here is the description of one of those “angel events.” This little vignette helps us to see how radical we must be in cutting the head off of sin.

I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily. What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. “Shut up, I tell you!” he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp from the mountains.

“Off so soon?” said a voice. The speaker was more or less human in shape, but larger than a man, and so bright I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.

“Yes, I’m off,” said the Ghost. “Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see. I told this little chap,” (here he indicated the lizard), “that he’d have to be quiet if he came – which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realize that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home.”

“Would you like me to make him quiet?” said the flaming Spirit – an angel, as I now understood.

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh – ah – look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,” said the Ghost retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?” said the Angel.

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with something so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard. “Shall I kill it?”

“Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it…” said the Ghost.

“May I kill it?” asked the Angel.

“Well, there’s time to discuss that later,” said the Ghost.

“There is not time. May I kill it?”

“Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please – really – don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it will be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

“May I kill it?”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it,” said the Ghost.

“The gradual process is of no use at all.”

“Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact, I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well today. It would be silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.”

“There is no other day. All days are present now.”

“Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did.”

“It is not so.”

“Why, you’re hurting me now.”

“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you”…

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.

“Be careful,” it said. “He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me forever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d only be a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless, abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams – all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent…”

“Have I your permission?” asked the Angel to the Ghost.

“I know it will kill me.”

“It won’t, but supposing it did?” asked the Angel.

“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.”

“Then I may?”

“… Go on, can’t you! Get it over. Do what you like,” bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, “God help me. God help me.”

Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never have heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed on the turf.

[This excerpt taken from The Way of Purity  work book by Mike Cleveland]

Lewis brilliantly set forth the struggle with sin and temptation, how we often try to reason a way to hold on rather than kill the sin. Is it easy? NO! Will it cause pain? PROBABLY! But it is better to live without it than to die with it. For further study on killing sin, and the why and the how of killing sin, see John Piper’s sermon here and here.

Well-worded article on the Tullian/TGC controversy: Where the Sanctification Controversy Lies – Reformation21 Blog. I agree with the sentiment of Dr. Kendall Easley via Facebook, “This move was apparently necessary, but it makes me sad. Yet I believe, more strongly than ever, in “one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”