Back on May 2, Rock County Christian School commemorated the National Day of Prayer. During that service, I offered the following prayer for my beloved city of Boston, MA.
Dear Lord Jesus,
You have commanded us to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. Today, we mourn alongside the city of Boston. We pray for the families of those who have perished in this awful attack. We pray for those who lives will be forever changed as they cope with the loss of limbs and other horrible resulting ailments.
But most of all, we pray for those who are left wondering why. They struggling to understand how so evil of an act can even be conceived, let alone carried out. As followers of You, Lord, we understand this world is not you created it. Things are not as they should be. We, your creation, have sinned against you. We have violated your commands and reap the consequences.
We also know that in this fallen world, we can still see you even though we have rejected you. Even as our sin abounds, your grace does much more abound. There is no telling what awful acts you have restrained and held back from the heart of man. We thank you that such incidents are so horrible because they are somewhat rare. Yet this truth does not take away the pain of lost loved ones and shattered bodies. The blood-stained sidewalks of Boston call out for justice.
We long for the day when you return as Sovereign Judge. You will right every wrong and evil will be forever punished and done away with. Yet, in this judgment you remember mercy for if you were completely just no one could stand in your presence of survive your wrath. In an act of unselfish love you gave us your own son as the ultimate bearer of our punishment. He took your wrath and we bask in your grace.
Lord, I pray that through this horrific act of sin, you would draw men to yourself. Help all to see this sin in light of the bigger picture of fallen humanity. Bring us to the cross. Bring us to yourself.
It is your holy and precious name that we pray,
It is with great excitement that I am able to announce that Ligonier Ministries has now made R.C Sproul’s Critical Questions series available for free download!
To further help Christians know what they believe, why they believe it, how to live it, and how to share it, from today the eBook editions of R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series will be free forever. (click here for the entire post from Ligonier)
While there’s no rush to download these titles, you still won’t want to waste much time placing this valuable resource in your e-library. Click each image below to download from Amazon.
Title: Bound Together: How We are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices
Author: Chris Brauns
Publishing Year: 2013
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)
Recently I asked the students in one of my theology classes to retell the biblical account of the fall of Jericho. They got the basics of the story just fine – Israelites returning from slavery, walking around the walls and the walls come tumbling down. Pressed for more, they recalled the story of Rahab. Pushed for even more details they described just how the Israelites silently walked along the walls except on the last day. When I told them there was something still missing from their account, some students resorted to memories of a Veggie Tales videos… Not one of the students remembered that all the inhabitants of the city were to be slaughtered. Young and old, male and female – even the livestock were to die. It’s not what we want to think about. It’s not part of the story that ever made it on to the flannel board when I was a kid in Sunday School.
As good Christians we tend to ignore parts of the Bible that leave us a little uncomfortable. We don’t want to think about Achan’s family also being stoned for their father/husband’s sin. Yet, in his book Bound Together, Pastor Chris Brauns takes these accounts head-on and explains how stories such as this in the Bible actually point to a larger truth about sin and redemption.
Pastor Brauns introduces us to the “principle of the rope – the simple truth that our lives, choices and actions are linked to the lives, choices and actions of other people.” (page 25) Its an uncomfortable truth, but true nonetheless. We all find ourselves dealing with the consequences in which the actions of others have placed us. In our representative form of government, this happens all the time. I did not vote for President Obama, but his choices and actions surely have an effect on me. I did not choose the family I was born into, but the actions of my parents sure have played a huge role in my life and development and will continue down to my children and grandchildren. Today as I type this review, the entire nation is grappling with the evil plans of unknown bombers from Boston. Those in Jericho suffered the consequences of being bound together with the sinful choices of others.
We are bound together in solidarity with entire human race. We all trace our roots back to the same person standing naked in the garden with a little bit of fruit still fresh on his lips. Ever since Adam, the entire human race must struggle with the actions stemming from our shared sin nature. Though we may not have been physically present with Adam or complicit in that exact sin, we suffer the consequences as guilty people. We all suffer the consequences.
“Broadly speaking, there are two consequences to Adam’s rebellion. First, Adam and all his descendants are guilty of sinning against God, and second, all of Adam’s descendants inherit a corrupted nature. This means all human beings, including babies and small children, are not innocent victims of circumstance. They are born sinners. As David confessed in Psalm 51:5, ‘Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ The problem we face as Adam’s descendants is not that we are sinners because we sin; rather we sin because we are sinners.” (Page 45)
However, there is another rope… As strong as the rope that binds to Adam and his fallen race, even stronger is the rope that binds us to Christ and his righteousness. The principle of the rope is not merely negative. The positive aspect of this principle highlights our identity in Christ Jesus. Drawing from Romans 5, Pastor Brauns shows us that though through Adam we are bound in sin and death, in Christ we are given righteousness and life. The same principle that imposes death on the human race also grants salvation to all who believe.
“The blessing of God’s love is greater than the curse of sin. The negative and positive applications of the principle of the rope are not symmetrical. Our solidarity in Christ is more powerful than our solidarity in sin with Adam.” (page 84)
The principle of the rope not only helps to see the metanarrative of Scripture is a clearer light, but it also helps us see our personal struggles and difficulties in a clearer light. In the second half of the book Pastor Chris applies this principle to issues such as marriage, families, death, and culture.
This is a book I wish I could hand to every family. As someone who works with children each day, I wish parents could see the effect their decisions have upon their children. Somehow some parents have managed to delude themselves into thinking their divorce will have no effect on their children since both parents plan to remain active. Yet, they fail to recognize their selfishness is not only seen by their children but in many ways is imitated by their children. Likewise, I wish children saw how their actions affect their siblings and even their parents.
Of course, I also greatly appreciate the strong emphasis on the local church. The principle of the rope demands that we associate ourselves with a community of believers. In fact, in the last chapter, Pastor Brauns argues the only thing that can truly combat our age of radical individualism is the local church.
This book would be a valuable addition to your library. I would urge you to get your copy and read it soon. Purchase your copy here.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
God is forever writing our story, and He gives us the dignity of being able to introduce characters that occasionally wrinkle the plot. Often we fear that we’ve permanently changed the trajectory of what might have been if we’d only been more obedient or pious. He smiles at this. He alone knows how many pages He has left before He needs to bring resolve, and He knows that it’s going to be okay.
Jesus Killed My Church is the story of a church plant that should have gone gangbusters yet managed to go bust, and a church planter who learned that the only measure of success is recognizing the leadership of Jesus as perfect. Randy Bohlender relays his lessons learned in a humorous way that drives home a point – that God has a plan even when ours fall apart.
Download the book here.
Do I Deserve the Death Penalty for Abortion? - So, should I be able to “breathe the same air as you?” That’s not really up to me to decide. But if you say things like that, know that a small piece of our heart is broken. But even if you break our hearts, we forgive you. Even if you bruise us, we forgive you. He who has been forgiven much, loves much. And we love a lot. - Abby Johnson
How Far Is Too Far? - Where so many people today err is in creating a category that fits somewhere between the neighbor relationship and the marriage relationship and this is exactly where the authors want to challenge the reader. “As far as God is concerned, all unmarried people are bound to the standards of purity he has defined in the neighbor relationship … We are not sanctioned to invent a new category of male-female relationships, only to remove ourselves from God’s guidelines in the process.” If she isn’t your wife and she isn’t a blood relative, she is your neighbor. If he isn’t your husband and he isn’t a blood relative, he is your neighbor and needs to be treated as such. – Tim Challies
Jim Hamilton’s Motivating Exhortation to Do Biblical Theology - Let me be frank: I have no patience for suggestions that preachers need to dumb it down. Preachers need to be clear, and they need to be able to explain things in understandable ways. But human beings do not need the Bible to be dumbed down. If you think that, what you really think is that God the Holy Spirit did not know what He was doing when He inspired the Bible to be the way it is. Not only does the suggestion that the Bible is more than God’s people can handle blaspheme God’s wisdom; it also blasphemes His image bearers. People are made in the image of God. Human beings are endowed with brains and sensibilities of astonishing capacity. – Jim Hamilton
If All You Have Is a Hammer - I have no problem with people having a focus to their ministry, whether that’s abortion, ecclesiology, Christian hedonism, tithing, or racial reconciliation. In fact, God often does much good with single-minded stalwarts like Wilberforce on slavery. Likewise, I recognize that God may give certain people special discernment or passion for a particular topic, error, or initiative. And because of our context we may feel compelled to protect certain doctrines or promote certain endeavors. We need experts and advocates. The problem is not with having a special hammer. The problem is when we whack at everything like its our special nail and whack at everyone for not being just as zealous about our one issue. – Kevin DeYoung
Free download today: The Psalmist: A New Collection of Hymns for the Use of the Baptist Churches
So, I’ve decided to end my book blog. It was fun while it lasted, but its starting to wear on me now. The truth of the matter is, I’m not all that well read. I do enjoy reading and will continue to do so. However, most of my reading focuses on theology, politics and history. I’ve never been into fiction. To do a blog like I tried, I think you need to have a broader scope than I want to have and real passion for it.
So, I will continue my book reviews and free e-book alerts, but will post them here on this blog instead of my book blog. So, in the next few weeks I’ll be re-posting some of my reviews here on this blog. I guess the best way to look at this as a merger of the two blogs. Anyway, get ready for more book news!