Book Review: Overcoming Bitterness: Moving from Life’s Greatest Hurts to a Life Filled with Joy by Stephen Viars

Book Review: Overcoming Bitterness: Moving from Life’s Greatest Hurts to a Life Filled with Joy by Stephen Viars

To some degree, bitterness is something that everyone will struggle with in a world that sin has broken. When I think about bitterness, Proverbs 14:10 comes to mind, "The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy." So what causes us to become bitter? How can we deal with our bitterness? Steven Viars answers these questions in his new book, Overcoming Bitterness: Moving from Life's Greatest Hurts to a Life Filled with Joy. Viars has been a pastor and biblical counselor at Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries in Lafayette, Indiana, since 1987. He has vast experience in biblical counseling and approaches this topic with clarity, gentleness, and patience. Viars explores how the Bible addresses bitterness in the book's first part. In the Old Testament, the word for bitter is marah, which is also the name that Naomi called herself after going through many trials (Ruth 1:20). In the New Testament, the Greek word is pikros, illustrated as bitter water...
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The Best Bible Reading Plan

The Best Bible Reading Plan

It is that time of year again where many people begin a Bible reading plan. There are many different options for how to read through the Bible. I will share the best bible reading plan that can work for anyone. The practice of Bible reading is essential to the Christian life. When I first became a believer, I desired to understand the faith that I was now believing. I went to a Christian bookstore and purchased my first study Bible. I knew very little about the Bible since I did not grow up in the church. I decided to read the Bible like any other book; I started on page one and worked through it. Later, I learned about Bible reading programs. I remember printing them out on paper and keeping it with my Bible. Today, we have apps to track our reading, Bibles on our phones, and we can even listen to the Bible read to us. Sometimes I ask people...
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Reflecting on Vegas

Reflecting on Vegas

Last month I attended an accounting conference in Las Vegas. Hundreds of Accountants with their calculators gathered together at the Venetian hotel. All sarcasm aside, this trip made me think a lot about why Vegas attracts so many people. There is an aspect of Las Vegas that fascinates me. There is an appeal to our desires, drawing in people seeking different things. One might argue that the main draw of Vegas is gambling, and close behind that is entertainment. However, I think there is something more profound than a desire to become rich or be entertained. There is a way in which Vegas appeals to the different natural desires that we were created with, which so quickly become disoriented. God gave us desires, and there are many things in life to enjoy, yet we want the good things too much, sometimes we want wrong things, and we even at times do not want the right thing. I think there is one...
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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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Dissertation Review: Covenant Theology for the Uninformed, Unsympathetic, and Misinformed by Pat Abendroth

A couple of months ago I began listening to a new podcast called The Pactum. In one of the episodes, the host Pat Abendroth was talking about covenant theology and referred to his dissertation called "Covenant Theology for the Uniformed, Unsympathetic, and Misinformed."  I was very intrigued by the title, so I decided to download it and add it to my reading list. I usually do not read dissertations as they are not the easiest papers to read, but I was pleasantly surprised that the author was engaging, clear, and straightforward. My theological background is not from a covenantal position. My first seminary experience was at a school that taught dispensationalism. We learned the primary differences between dispensationalism and covenant theology, but the primary emphasis was on understanding the different strands of dispensationalism. I am now at a church that is confessional, subscribing to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. My pastor and I have been discussing the confession which...
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What’s your favorite podcast?

What’s your favorite podcast?

One of the best things about podcasts is that there are so many great ones out there, and one of the worst things about podcasts is that there is not enough time to listen to them all! I enjoy listening to podcasts on a variety of different topics, and I want to share the ones that I subscribe to along with a brief description. Maybe you will find something new to listen to. News The Briefing with Albert Mohler - Dr. Mohler reports on current news and culture events from a biblical perspective. He does a great job of helping listeners understand the importance of events with a biblical worldview.The Journal - The Wall Street Journal produces this daily podcast with Kate Linebuagh and Ryan Knutson. They cover current events on money, business, and power. Sometimes they do special mini-series (see below). The Daily - This podcast is from the New York Times featuring Michael Barbaro. I disagree with most of...
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Book Review: When Home Hurts by Jeremy Pierre and Greg Wilson

How should the church handle domestic abuse? What steps can a church take to help those affected by abuse? In their new book, When Home Hurts: A Guide for Responding Wisely to Domestic Abuse in Your Church, Jeremy Pierre and Greg Wilson provide a new resource to help church leaders deal with domestic abuse. In this book, Pierre and Wilson provide a practical resource for the church to help care for those affected by abuse. They deal primarily with male abusers while giving counsel in the appendix for cases of female abusers. The authors divide the book into three sections: 1) How to Understand Abuse, 2) How to Respond After the Initial Disclosure, and 3) How to Care in the Long Term. In the first section, they discuss the dynamics of abuse. They explain the experience, "Abuse occurs as a person in a position of greater influence uses his personal capacities to diminish the personal capacities of those under his influence in...
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The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go – Part 2

The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go – Part 2

"The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go" John Muir  My last post had a summary of my past three years of hiking with my brother. I am going to share to a couple of thoughts that came to mind during this last trip. One of the trails that we were on is called the New Army pass. The trail is 15 miles long and passes by five different lakes. The trail begins in the forest, then passes by lakes, and eventually ends at the top of a mountain pass. Right before you ascend the mountain peak you walk through a valley with mountains on both sides. From a distance, you cannot tell if there is a path through the mountains, or if it continues over the mountain. As we got closer, I told my brother, I think we are going over the mountain. A small pathway appeared which we climbed to the top, which stands at 12,400 ft. The ascension up...
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The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go – Part 1

The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go – Part 1

"The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go" John Muir For the past three years, my brother and I have gone on an annual hiking trip. The first year (2019) we explored peaks in Southern California. My brother had planned out two days of hiking. He chose Mt. San Gorgonio for the first hike, which is the highest peak in Southern California. This was my first intense hike: 19.3 miles, 5,500 elevation gain, ending at 11,503 ft. This was a hard climb and I got altitude sickness on the way up. No one that I know enjoys vomiting, but it is even worse on top of a mountain! I eventually pushed through it, made it to the top, and survived the walk down. This was a fun hike through the San Bernadino National Forest with different scenery along the way. Toward the end of the hike, you walk on the side of the mountain passing the tree line. The end is grueling,...
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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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