Grace upon grace

Grace upon grace

One of our annual vacations has been a two-day camping trip over the memorial day holiday. We have camped with friends at Carpinteria State Beach for the last couple of years. The campsite is within walking distance of the beach and the city. There are train tracks nearby, so you hear the train whizzing by, while at night, you hear the sound of the crashing waves on the shore. A bonus (not really) are the crows that wake you up in the morning. One of my favorite times during the trip is waking up early in the morning to walk on the beach while the sun begins to rise. I like to reflect as I look out into the sea that seems endless, watching the wave goes back and forth. I feel a sense of peace and tranquility as I take in the sounds of the sea and the sights of birds overhead. A particular Scripture kept coming to my mind...
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Book Review: Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography by Curis Solomon

Book Review: Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography by Curis Solomon

I recently had the opportunity to read a new book by Curis Solomon called, Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography. His wife, Jenny Solomon, also wrote a companion book called Reclaim Your Marriage: Grace for Wives Who Have Been Hurt by Pornography. Solomon is a biblical counselor and serves as the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. The topic of pornography is important for biblical counselors to address. Unfortunately, the message in our culture seems to be that porn is no big deal, and my experience in the church is that many people struggle but few people talk about the issue. This new book by Solomon felt you were sitting with a friend over coffee who offered hope and wisdom to deal with this common struggle with sin. I appreciate the transparency from his own life and how he held the tension of calling pornography evil while not condemning the one struggling. Instead, he...
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Book Review: Sanctification: God’s Passion for His People by John MacArthur

Book Review: Sanctification: God’s Passion for His People by John MacArthur

I have read many books and journal articles on sanctification over the last couple of years as I was doing research for my doctoral project. There are many books and differing views on sanctification, and I have not found one book that captures everything about this important theological truth. Last year I came across John MacArthur's book on sanctification and added it to my Kindle library. I attended The Master's Seminary, and I respect John MacArthur as one who has been a faithful pastor for decades and impacted my life when I first became a believer. I was very interested in how he would deal with this important topic. MacArthur wrote this short book called Sanctification: God's Passion for His People in 2020. This book is only seven chapters in under 100 pages so that one can read this quickly. He writes this book to pastors, and he says that their primary calling is the "sanctification of God's people." As with...
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Book Review: Heart & Habits: How We Change for Good by Greg Gifford

Book Review: Heart & Habits: How We Change for Good by Greg Gifford

Do you have any bad habits? Be honest! Last year I attended a conference and received a book called Heart & Habits: How We Change For Good by Greg Gifford. I have read many books on sanctification, and this was the first one I read regarding habits. Most of the time, talking about habits is in the realm of self-improvement. Therefore, I was interested in learning how the author would handle habits from a biblical perspective. Habits are a normal part of life and help us do things without thinking about them. Most people get up in the morning, brush their teeth, take a shower, and put on their clothes without having to think about all of the steps involved in the process. I remember when my kids were learning to tie their shoes. They would slowly take one lace, wrap it around the other lace, and finish off with a bow. It was a time-consuming process, and life would be frustrating...
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Book Review: Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund

Book Review: Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund

Last year Dane Ortlund released a book “Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers.” This was one of my favorite books from last year. Recently, he released a new book called Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners. In this book, he addressed a common question, “how do Christians grow?” There are nine chapters that explored growing in Christ, or as he called it, “real change for real sinners.” He argued a simple point throughout the book; we grow as we deepen our relationship with Christ. He said that growth in Christ is “relational, not a formulaic experience.” The relational aspect that he focused on is the heart of Christ for sinners and sufferers, which leads believers to daily fight the ongoing presence of sin by the power of the Spirit. Ortlund simplified theological concepts and is skilled at using word pictures. For example, “justification is outside-in, and we lose it if we make it inside-out” and “sanctification is...
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Helpful Complaining

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about why I complain so much. Most of the time I complain because there is someone or something in which I am dissatisfied. I think most people associate complaining with negativity, but I believe that there is a positive side to complaining. There are times when we can take complaining and make it helpful. When the pandemic lockdowns began in Los Angeles the freeways were empty. I remember the eerie feeling of driving on a freeway with only a handful of drivers when there were normally hundreds of them. Not only were there few cars but people were driving fast. I remember thinking that at the end of the lockdown people will need to slow down. Humans are slow to change though, and now people drive faster and more erratic than ever. I recently noticed a problem in my neighborhood at a two-way intersection. Over the last year I started to notice...
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Book Review: The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Walter Marshall

Last year I bought a book on Kindle because the title intrigued me. I forgot about the book and a couple of months ago I listened to a podcast that was discussing the book. The podcast interviewed Dr. Bruce McRae who translated the original work from 1692 into modern English. The book is called "The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification" by Walter Marshall. Marshall was an English non-conformist Puritan Pastor who lived from 1628-1680. If you have ever read the Puritans, you will understand why this work was translated into modern English! Professor John Murray said the book was "the most important book on sanctification ever written." Bruce McRae introduced the book by talking about the importance of sanctification. He defined sanctification as "the lifelong process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ." He said that there is confusion over sanctification when these questions are asked, “How Christians become holy? Where does the power for godly living come from?” He...
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Why do I complain so much?

A week ago, my family visited a local farm to pick strawberries. As we left, I bought each of my kids a flavored popsicle for the drive home. They enjoyed it for a few minutes until I heard from the back of the car that my son wanted a napkin because he did not like it. My ten-year-old daughter told my eight-year-old son, "You never like anything, it's too hot, or it's too cold, it doesn't taste good, you are never satisfied." At that moment I did not know whether I should commend her for her skillful assessment of the human heart or to comfort my son who had just received a tongue lashing as he had his heart exposed. Over this last year it seems that complaining has become so normal that we do not realize we are doing it all the time.  Can you believe the traffic? I cannot believe I have to wear a mask outside. These politicians...
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The House that Sanctifies Me

There are many tools in God’s toolbox that he uses to sanctify his people. Some of those tools include other people, a specific verse, a sermon, suffering, and circumstances. The Lord knows the right tool to use at the right time. Over the past ten years the Lord has used a home as one of his primary tools to sanctify me. My wife and I were excited to finally buy our first home. We had our first child and were looking for a place to settle down after moving around a couple of times. We looked at many different homes and eventually found one that fit our budget. We knew the house would need some work; we did not realize how much work we were getting ourselves into. After a couple of months in the home, I received a call from my wife at work, “there is a leak in the bedroom ceiling!” My excitement of homeownership quickly turned into despair. I...
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