Wednesday Book Reviews – East of Ashes, Dirty God

East of AshesEast of Ashes by Gideon Nieuwoudt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Such a promising beginning. My favorite time period, a book with good, solid, believable characters, a clear Christian message – so why only three stars? Actually would be 3.5 if I could do halves. The ending for me seemed truncated, cut off too soon. Its not that I didn’t like the ending, just that there didn’t seem to be the attention to detail that there was in the rest of the story. That’s too bad because the book was well written and I was hooked from the first few pages. I would read other books from this author in a heartbeat and do recommend this as a good read, just not a great one.
It is well worth your time though and I do respect how the clear Christian message was approached and executed. That aspect of the book gets 5 stars.
Give it a chance – I believe you will enjoy it.

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Dirty God: Jesus in the TrenchesDirty God: Jesus in the Trenches by Johnnie Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book and how the author illustrates the grace of God. What keeps this from getting 4 or 5 stars from me is that the message seems to get muddled a lot on the way. While it didn’t seem cohesive to me – perhaps better editing would have helped – what he had to say was good. I can see this book being helpful but rarely does the author use inclusive language “we”, “our”, etc.. so it reads kind of like a pep talk and not a conversation. Very useful for those confused about grace, Jesus and salvation or for brand new Christians just exploring their faith.

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Preface to The Quest: Changing a Church’s Culture From Missions-minded to Missions-active

A prominent Christian author makes the statement, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” (Piper, 1993) Another Christian author rebuts with the assertation that, “Actually missions exists because true worship does.” (Blue, 2001) Both of these statements are true. The need for missions exists because there are people in the world who do not worship Jesus Christ as Lord and the response to reach these people with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ comes from those who already worship Him.

As believers mature spiritually, the realization of Christ’s desire for all His children to be ambassadors for Him brings them into a crisis point. Will they remain inwardly focused on their growth as a follower of Jesus Christ or will they focus outward toward those who have yet to become children of God? The answer to this question has enormous consequences for both individual Christians and churches because churches, made up of individual Christians, reflect their constituents. Just as there is a level of spiritual maturity one cannot rise above until they have experienced leading a person to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, there is a level of spiritual growth in a church that will not be broached until the church is focused on reaching the world for their Master. A church made up of inward looking members will primarily exist for itself. A church made up of outwardly focused individuals will focus beyond their four walls.

Moving a church from being inwardly focused to being missions-minded and eventually missions-active should be the goal of her leaders. This book will explore how to move a church from being missions-minded (or missions-aware) to missions-active.

 

The Quest is available in print or Kindle from Amazon.com or http://www.discernmentministries.webs.com

Hymn Devotions Day 40 – More About Jesus

DAY 40 – MORE ABOUT JESUS

             What a great way to end forty days of devotions. To learn more about Jesus everyday should be the desire of each of us. No matter how much I study and how much I learn, I have only scratched the surface of knowing Him. I desire to know more about Him. I am glad that eternity means forever, because that is how long I anticipate it taking to even begin knowing Him.

In learning more about Him, I will come to understand what He means when I am given direction by Him. I will be able to discern His will more clearly and obey Him more completely. I will come to understand His Words revealed in the Scriptures, written for our guidance.

One of the greatest ways to learn more of Him is to talk to Him, through prayer, each day. It is in conversing with Him that we learn to hear His voice. We also read of Him in the Bible, so that we can compare what it says to what we hear, to make sure we are hearing His voice and not an imposters.

Another reason I desire to learn more about Him is to be able to show others I know, whom I care about, what He is like. I long to show His grace and transforming power to those around me who need Him most. If I am going to be greedy and shout more, more, I want it to be a holy greediness to understand my Lord better.

My prayer for you, is that you will desire to know more about Him also.

 

Lord, help us desire to know more of You. Reveal Yourself to us as we come to You in prayer, as we read of You in the Bible. Speak to us in an unmistakable voice, one that cuts through the clutter and noise of the world. Help us to know You so that we may live a life pleasing to You and bring others to You for salvation.

MORE ABOUT JESUS by Eliza Hewitt

 

More about Jesus would I know

More of His grace to others show

More of His saving fullness see

More of His love Who died for me

 

More about Jesus let me learn

More of His holy will discern

Spirit of God, my teacher be

Showing the things of Christ to me

 

More about Jesus in His Word

Holding communion with my Lord

Hearing His voice in every line

Making each faithful saying mine

 

More about Jesus on His throne

Riches in glory all His own

More of His kingdom’s sure increase

More of His coming, Prince of Peace

 

REFRAIN:

 

More, more about Jesus

More, more about Jesus

More of His saving fullness see

More of His love who died for me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hymn Devotions Day 28 – Victory in Jesus

 DAY 28 – VICTORY IN JESUS

               This song has jokingly been referred to as the “Baptist Anthem” as it is a perennial favorite with this denomination. Its appeal is far broader than any one segment of Christianity, however. The author was one of the founding fathers of Southern gospel music, and wrote over 800 songs. This one, composed in 1939, was his last.

Whenever I sing this hymn, I am reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57:

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is our victory! When He saves us He grants us eternal life with God forever. Victory over death. He gives us a new heart, with His Spirit always with us. Victory over loneliness, sin, ungodly desires. Victory over our enemies, victory over our adversary, victory over everything that would or could stand in the way of a deep abiding relationship with our heavenly Father.

It is no wonder this hymn is so popular. It reminds us that we owe everything to Jesus. It is His salvation He gives us, it is His healing power, His cleansing power, His home He is sharing. The focus is solely on Jesus and the provision He has made for those who believe upon Him. What better way to start a day is there, than to focus on Jesus? What greater legacy could a man like Eugene Bartlett give, than to write His greatest song last – for what could possibly top a song that focuses so exclusively on our Savior?

I cannot wait to sing this with him in front of our Lord. This song is our song, the song of redemption.

 

Thank You, Lord, for giving us victory of sin and death. Thank You for purchasing our salvation. Thank You for providing a home with You, so we can enjoy You forever.

VICTORY IN JESUS – Eugene Bartlett, Sr.

 

I heard an old, old story

How a Savior came from glory

How He gave His life on Calvary

To save a wretch like me

I heard about His groaning

Of His precious blood’s atoning

Then I repented of my sins

And won the victory

 

I heard about His healing

Of His cleansing power revealing

How He made the lame to walk again

And caused the blind to see

And then I cried, “Dear Jesus

Come and heal my broken spirit.”

And somehow Jesus came and brought

To me the victory

 

I heard about a mansion

He has built for me in glory

And I heard about the streets of gold

Beyond the crystal sea

About the angels singing

And the old redemption story

And some sweet day I’ll sing up there

The song of victory

 

REFRAIN:

 

O victory, in Jesus, my Savior, forever

He sought me and He bought me

With His redeeming blood

He loved me ere I knew Him

And all my love is due Him

He plunged me, to victory

Beneath the cleansing flood

 

DAY 28

 

Hymn Devotions Day 27 – I Know Whom I Have Believed

 

DAY 27 – I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED

 

This hymn has always resonated with me, from my childhood until now. I do not pretend to know why God loves me. I do not pretend to know how He could ever forgive me nor why He would. He, in His mercy, showered me with His grace. That act of kindness overwhelms me now even more than it did when I first experienced it.

I truly do understand that His Spirit gave me faith to believe the truth of His words. That His Spirit brought understanding to my mind, conviction to my soul, repentance to my heart but how that occurred – it just did. One moment I was living for me, the next I was bowed under the Spirit’s leadership, crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness. What a miracle.

It is also a miracle that as we read His Word the Spirit makes it come alive, imparting its wisdom and truth to us. God’s Spirit does create faith in us, just as He creates new life and transforms our minds. I don’t know when Jesus will return. He may return for me today. I may die and return with Him years from now but I do know He will return with His saints to judge the ungodly.

I don’t know many things about the God I have served for 40 + years now. But I do know this: He hides my soul in the palm of His hand and is faithful to keep it forever. I love how the refrain of the hymn is a direct quote from 2 Timothy 1:12. God is faithful and He is able to keep us from falling. He never fails to keep a promise and His Spirit has sealed me in His love forever, praise His holy name.

Thank you, Lord, for keeping my soul safe forever. Thank you for redeeming it. Thank you for sanctifying it. You are a great God and worthy to be praised.

 

I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BLIEVED – Daniel Whittle

I know not why God’s wondrous grace

To me He hath made known

Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love

Redeemed me for His own

 

I know not how this saving faith

To me He did impart

Nor how, believing in His Word

Wrought peace within my heart

 

I know not how the Spirit moves

Convincing us of sin

Revealing Jesus through the Word

Creating faith in Him

 

I know not what of good or ill

May be reserved for me

Of weary ways or golden days

Before His face I’ll see

 

I know not when my Lord may come

At night or noonday fair

Nor if I’ll walk the vale with Him

Or meet Him in the air

 

REFRAIN:

 

But I know whom I have believed

And am persuaded that He is able

To keep that which I’ve committed

Unto Him against that day

 

 

 

 

 

Great Quotes From Ages Past – #2

Completely agree with this quotes:

Sometimes we are inclined to think that a very great portion of modern revivalism has been more a curse than a blessing, because it has led thousands to a kind of peace before they have know their misery; restoring the prodigal to the Father’s house, and never making him say, “Father, I have sinned

C.H. Spurgeon

Grace

Dale Ralph Davis has said, “It is not only by grace alone that we become God’s people but by grace alone we remain His people.” I don’t care if one is Calvinist or Arminean, we can both agree on this statement. We are saved by grace alone, Ephesians is very clear on that. We are also kept by the power of that same grace, given to us as a gift from God. We do nothing before salvation to merit it and we do nothing after salvation to merit keeping it. Has anyone lived perfectly, even after being born again? No? Then it is only by God’s grace we remain in fellowship with Him. The more one studies grace in Scripture, the more amazing it becomes.

As the Canons of Dort  expresses it, “God does not owe this grace to anyone. For what could God owe to one who has nothing to give that can be paid back? Indeed, what could God owe to one who has nothing of his own to give but sin and falsehood?” I leave you this morning with one other quote to ponder, this one from Alistair Begg: “As a result of grace, we have been saved from sin’s penalty. One day we will be saved from sin’s presence. In the meantime we are being saved from sin’s power.” Amen and praise God for His grace.

 

 

 

Hymn Devotions Day 13 – Amazing Grace

DAY 13 –  AMAZING GRACE

               I find it ironic that almost everyone sings a version of Amazing Grace. Just perusing music sites, it seems every star has released a version of this song at one time or another, even though most of those people have never experienced God’s saving grace.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.

To fear God is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of His just punishment for sin. When I reflected on John 3:17-18, it made John 3:16 come alive. I was already condemned and facing eternal punishment.

And grace my fears relieved.

God’s grace, given to me when I turned my life over to His Son’s Lordship, granted to me eternal life. There is now no condemnation for I am safely in the family of God. So precious, that grace given the hour, the very second I first believed.

Upon hearing the call of God, our Shepherd, here in this world, we will experience His reality face to face in the next. His word, His promises, secures our hope for an eternity with Him in heaven.

Unless a person has experienced God’s saving grace, they really have no idea what this song is about. Far from just being a good hymn, it hammers home to us that our only hope is to be found in Christ alone.

            Lord, Your grace is totally amazing. That You could extend grace and mercy to us just completely overwhelms me. You, the perfect, holy Creator of the Universe, extending grace to one such as myself, selfish, arrogant, sinful is simply … amazing.

            Thank you for saving me by Your grace and extending to me the faith necessary to believe. 

AMAZING GRACE by John Newton

Amazing grace how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

Was blind but now I see

 

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear

And grace my fears relieved

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed

 

Through many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far

And grace will lead me home

 

The Lord has promised good to me

His word my hope secures

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures

 

Yea when this flesh and heart shall fail

And mortal life shall cease

I shall possess within the veil

A life of joy and peace

 

The world shall soon dissolve like snow

The sun refuse to shine

But God who called me here below

Shall be forever mine

 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years

Bright shining as the sun

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’ve first begun

Hymn Devotions Day 3 – O Worship The King

DAY 3 O WORSHIP THE KING 

This majestic song lifts you up in praise to the One seated on the Everlasting throne. The use of adjectives such as shield, defender, friend, maker and redeemer tell us of God’s character.

Here is no aloof God, watching from way off in space. Here is a God intimately involved with His creation. This is, make no mistake, a hymn about the Creator and His creation. It was based on Psalm 104. In a day where evolution is held to be absolute truth, this hymn helps us to unashamedly sing out our belief in a personal Creator God.

The third stanza unapologetically states that God formed the world. The writer has in mind both the Genesis account of Moses and the book of Job, where God tells Job that He put boundaries on the waters.

God’s love and providence for His creation is evident throughout the song. It is because He cares and desires so deeply for us to have a relationship with Him, that we are able to sing of His glory and might.

God is our shield, an ever-present help in times of trouble. He defends us against the slanderous attacks of our adversary. He is our friend as well as our Lord, a mind-blowing concept is ever there was one. Most of all, He is our creator and our redeemer. He made us for Himself and redeemed us for Himself. All praise to the King of Kings, who is worthy of all glory and honor.

As you pray today, thank God for the ways He manifests Himself to you – a shield, defender, redeemer. He is not only your maker, but He will be your friend if you would yield your life to Him.

 

Thank you Lord, for creating us and the beautiful world we live in. We worship You, King of the Universe, and give you all glory and honor and praise.

 

O WORSHIP THE KING by Robert Grant

O worship the King, all glorious above

O gratefully sing God’s power and God’s love

Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days

Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace

Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space

Whose chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form

      And dark is His path on the wings of the storm

      The earth with its store of wonders untold

      Almighty Thou power hath founded of old

      Hath established it fast by a changeless decree

      And round it has cast like a mantle, the sea

      Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite

      It breathes in the air, it shines in the light

      It streams from the hills, it descends to the plains

      And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain

      Frail children of dust and feeble as frail

      In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail

      Thy mercies, how tender, how firm to the end

      Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend