The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, The Surprise of Judgment, The Hope of Holy War (Review)

The Skeleton in God's closet I’m a fan of The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War, Joshua Ryan Butler does a fantastic job of leading the reader on a journey exploring three of the controversial doctrines of the Bible. Butler writes to open up a dialogue with contemporary culture and it’s broadly popular misunderstanding of these key doctrines. His writing style is engaging, witty, humble and personable. He has a way of inviting his readers to investigate their own biases, what the bible really says, and how people have understood or misunderstood these doctrines in the past. This is a well written book that could easily have been turned into a shorter three book series. (You get your money’s worth).

Once you understand Butler aims his book at a postmodern mindset it comes into focus. There were a few moments where I pondered, “Why is he going here?” and “What is he about to say?” because he came seemingly close to a different understanding of a doctrinal issue. Thankfully at each point he clarifies his understanding and leads the reader to a biblical appreciation for the doctrine in question.

Over all I thought this was a great book. The author has a brilliant writing style that at times is very poetic. I purchased my copy from amazon.com who has it on sale right now for $12.84 in paperback.

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Acts 5: Your Sin isn’t Small

God kills Ananias and Sapphira. Before you start to get upset about that consider that He had every right. He’s God! We all owe him our breath. We all live at his pleasure. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that God doesn’t posses the same right over you… He’s your maker.

Ananias and Sapphira wanted recognition for selling property and giving their money to the church. No worries there, but they held back and lied about the gift. I don’t know what they were holding back for, maybe a 401K, a better car, or maybe to just pay off some debts. Either way, they held back. Not that they owed all the money to the church like a debt or obligation, but that they claimed that it was everything. They were faking generosity.

Faking generosity to the church is a mockery of the gospel. Consider that this offering was going to meet the needs of the poor (4:34-35). Consider that those who sold their property were giving all of it away and this enabled the apostles to boast even more about the resurrection of Jesus (4:32-35). This unity that the church experiences is a direct witness to the power of the gospel. It puts both the present condition of those who are destitute and suffering and the eternal condition of those who profess faith in Christ in the same light… If God would not withhold his son from me, so that I might be saved… Who am I to withhold earthly goods from those who have immediate need.

The problem came when Ananias and Sapphira held back. That’s not the gospel… it’s a feigned generosity. It’s a lie. It’s a false gospel. They are not mimicking the generosity of God.  They held back. They care only about having the appearance of piety and so they lie.

The lie costs them. It costs them their lives… by the way, that is what sin costs. It’s not small. It’s not trivial. It’s not as though the cross were a small thing. The love of God compelled Christ to die for our sin and this single act is the most generous thing that has ever happened in all of history. The early church was a testimony to that in the way that the hearts of the wealthy were moved to outrageous generosity… but when one couple held back they were reminded to never take the generosity of God for granted. Sin always costs.

A Story of Restoration and Hope for the American Family

978-1-4143-6394-3I read Road Trip to Redemption: A Disconnected Family, a Cross-Country Adventure, and an Amazing Journey of Healing and Grace a while back and was greatly encouraged.  The Author, Brad Matthias, shares a detailed story about his family’s breakdown and reconnection. The book chronicles a road trip that the author and his family took in search of healing.

I grew up in the general area where most of the road trip takes place (the North West US and Southern Canada) and I remember traveling to some of the same sights with my parents and grandparents. So I have to admit that part of me was longing to go on a similar trip just to re-live part of my childhood.

The real gold to the story though wasn’t the tale of the open road (though the Matthias family does encounter a few obstacles and victories along the way), but of how the family reconnected throughout the journey. I appreciated the insights shared by the all the family members in their journals and was blessed to be able to share in their journey in a small way. I don’t think this book was intended to be an instruction manual as much as an encouragement. The author is transparent in his struggle to illustrate that he hasn’t always been there for his family like he should, but even broken families can be restored and brought back together through the power of the gospel.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good non-fiction read. It’s especially good for dad’s who are looking at how to reconnect with their teenagers. It’s really not a “how to” manual, but it does provide some solid advice in the form of a story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges (a Reveiw)

I intentionally took a while to read Transforming Grace so I wouldn’t pass over anything too lightly.  There is a danger in reading a book like Transforming Grace, in that experienced Christians feel that they are beyond the meat of the message.  There may be a sense of, “been there, done that.” And to be honest the book doesn’t set out with any new truths (given the nature of the book, I wouldn’t expect it too). But there is a great value for mature Christians in reading Transforming Grace.  While the truths are not new, they are still truths.  While Jerry may belabor a few points, they are worth belaboring.

In Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love Jerry does an excellent job in cutting the meat and  doctrine of transforming grace into palatable and bite sized portions while maintaining an emphasis on the work of Christ.  It’s a great read for new believers.  Mr. Bridges has a knack for taking difficult topics and presenting them in an easy to understand fashion.  Transforming Grace is also a great read for mature believers as well.  The doctrine of grace is one that should never get old or tired.  None of us are past grace.  All of us have a proclivity to default to a works based system of favor with God.  Believers come into a right relationship with God by faith, through the work of Christ, which is undeserved on our part, and indeed a gift of God’s grace.

There is also a companion Discussion Guide for Transforming Grace.  It takes one or two chapters at a time and provides details and discussion points.  The Discussion Guide seems like it would work well in a small group Bible study or book club.  Reader’s interested in the topic of transforming grace may also want to check out John Piper’s book Future Grace.

If you are looking to learn more about God’s grace in the life of a believer, this book is for you.  I highly recommend this book to believers new and old.  The retail price is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available at a discount at  Amazon.com for $10.19.  The Study Guide is also available on Amazon.com for $9.99. I gave it five stars.

The Fruitful Life by Jerry Bridges (a Review)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”