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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Reflections on war and hope

Six years ago, I had the privilege of visiting Ukraine with Children's Hunger Fund, the nonprofit organization I have worked at for the past eleven years. There has been an ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine for many years. In 2014 there was turmoil in Ukraine over the President who wanted to have closer contact with Russia while the people wanted to join the European Union. Instead of signing an agreement with the European Union, the President sided with Russia. In response, there were protests called the Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv at Maidan square. The outcome of that event was that the President fled to Russia for asylum, and a new president was installed. I remember visiting Maidan square and seeing the memorial of the many people who had lost their lives during the protests. Later in 2014, Russia annexed the Peninsula of Crimea away from Ukraine. They also invaded Eastern...
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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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3-2-1 Refreshment for the Soul

3-2-1 Refreshment for the Soul

The stress, busyness, and cares of this world can be overwhelming. There are human limitations that I try to defy, like not getting enough sleep and constantly working. Yet God always reminds me that my body needs rest and refreshment to function the way it was designed. I often know when I am at the point of needing some extended time to refresh when I notice what is coming out of my heart, such as irritation at the slightest thing. Recently I was beyond the point of needing a break, so I decided to take a day off work to do what helps me reset, hiking. I love to hike, and I hope to inspire you to explore the great outdoors as I share my adventures. I usually hike from April-October, taking a break during the cooler months. However, we had some unusual weather in Southern California this February, with temperatures in the 80's for a short period. The hot weather...
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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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