Book Review: Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God

Book Review: Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God

I was recently at a counseling conference, browsing through the bookstore. One of the newer books displayed was Tim Challies' new book, "Seasons of Sorrow: the pain of loss and the comfort of God." I was looking for a book I could read during my flight home, and this book was my companion. Every person will face pain and loss in this world, and there are different responses to those events. Suffering is part of living in a sinful post-fall world. All of us will suffer in this lifetime (Christian and non-Christian). The question is when and to what degree. All will suffer in this life, but not all will respond the same to suffering. I think suffering leads us to a crossroads in life. One path is to turn away from the Lord and focus inward, allowing the devastation to shape one's thinking and identity in life. The other path leads to the Lord, where the truth of Scripture and...
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Book Review: Work: It’s Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation

I've been workin' on the railroad,All the live long day.I've been workin' on the railroad,Just to pass the time away.Can't you hear the whistle blowing? Rise up so early in the morn.Can't you hear the captain shoutin'"Dinah, blow your horn?" I do not remember when I first heard these lyrics, but I think this song captures the thought of how much time we spend working. Everyone has one hundred sixty-eight hours in a week. If you work 40 hours (not including commute time), you spend 23.8% of your weekly hours working. For most of us, work is not optional but is a necessity of life. How should we think about work? Is it just a job to make money, or does it make a difference in the world? Is it where I find my identity, or is it a necessary evil? Should I leave my job and pursue a different one that pays more or gives me more satisfaction? What if...
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Book Review: Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor

Book Review: Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor

I learned about Jordan Raynor's new book Redeeming Your Time through my job. We have book clubs a couple of times a year in which we read and discuss books. There were various books to choose from, and the title of this one caught my attention. If there is one thing about my life right now, I am busy and need more time! The book contains seven purposeful, present, and wildly productive principles. These are taken primarily from the life of Jesus, which Raynor then derives principles and practices for greater productivity. I appreciate that he begins by setting the tone that he wants Christians to have "grace-based productivity" instead of "works-based productively." He means that our true identity and worth are not found in what we do but in who we are in Christ. He also guards against legalism by offering many different ways to put the principles into action, without saying his methods are the best. Therefore, the reader...
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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: 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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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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Book Review: Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners by Michael Emlet

If someone asked, "who are you?" how would you answer? Every person answers this question about their identity. We receive our first identity from our parents on our birth certificate. Our identity includes our gender, race, and first and last name. Our identity shapes how we view the world, think about ourselves, and relate to other people. The Bible uses a variety of identity language to describe believers (i.e., sinner, saint, child of God, forgiven, and redeemed). As described in the title of his new book, "Saints, Suffers, and Sinners: Loving Others as God Loves Us", Michael Emlet uses three terms to describe a Christian's identity. The three identities saints, sufferers, and sinners are not separate categories but are true realities of all believers. These three categories are woven together in each believer. These realities teach us how God loves us and how we should reciprocate that love to others. Emlet calls these "signposts for wise love." He emphasizes the order of...
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Book Review: Reset by David Murray

I enjoy reading books because it helps me slow down and think. I recently came across “Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture” by David Murray that helped me to think more deeply about slowing down. At the beginning of the book, Murray says, "Slow your pace or you'll never finish the race." The Bible calls believers to run the race (1 Cor. 9:24-27) and Murray addresses the problem of allowing the race to turn into burnout. He wrote this book primarily for those who are exhausted and weary in a culture of burnout.   Although he writes primarily to Christian pastors and leaders, the principles of this book can be used by anyone who feels the effects of exhaustion. There is a funny illustration, but a little too true about life today. "Doing, doing, doing; producing, producing, producing; more, more, more; longer, longer, longer." Murray focuses on grace as the motivating factor for all of life. If grace does...
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Book Review: Where Prayer Becomes Real by Kyle Strobel and John Coe

How is your prayer life? This is a question that can bring up feelings of shame and guilt. We often do not spend enough time in prayer or we forget to pray. Sometimes we might feel like God is not listening to us and other times we feel like we are talking to ourselves. We might think we need just the right words for God to listen to us. Prayer is not a skill we master but a practice that we grow in throughout our entire lives. A new book to help us grow in our prayer life was released in March 2021 called, “Where Prayer Becomes Real: How Honesty with God Transforms Your Soul” by Kyle Strobel and John Coe. In the opening chapter of the book Kyle Strobel shares what he learned about prayer from John Coe, “prayer is not a place to be good, it is a place to be honest.” This is a major theme of the...
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