Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

Books

Preaching the Ten Commandments Today

These days, following the lead of our pastor Daniel Kim, we are preaching through the ten commandments at Hallelujah English Ministry. In Hebrew it is actually the ten words (עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִֽים).

I just started another website to post some material related to this. You can find the new website here Preaching the Ten Commandments.

When I heard about the intention of the senior pastor I was not very excited. I never preached from the ten commandments and I was planning to continue my preaching through Genesis (the Isaac story), and later from Ecclesiastes. However, since pastor Steve Chang started preaching through the ten commandments while I was in the hospital (he preached through the first four), I had to continue when I came out, especially since he left for his sabbatical.

As I started preparing for my sermons I realized that there was a lot of wisdom in preaching through the ten commandments, as they reflect the character of God and as the law functions as a mirror that should lead us to God and the cross. (Of course – the law has other functions: map/guide, muzzle/restrain etc).

So far – I find these books the most useful for my preparation (my time is limited, partly because of my knee injury):

Keeping the Ten Commandments by J. I Packer – this is a good and brief introduction to the commandments from a great contemporary theologian.

 

Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis by Philip Ryken – this is the best resource for teaching/preaching I have found so far. It is very insightful and informed!!! He gives very good guidelines for understanding OT law and has a very good grasp of the Reformed catechisms (Heidelberg and Westminster) and of today’s culture.

 

Words from the Fire by Albert Mohler – this is also very insightful, but I find Ryken better.

You can get all of these 3 books on KINDLE (as I did), and that makes it much easier to take notes. If you can only afford two (or have limited time), go for the first two.

Two more books look useful, but I have not been able to access one of them in time though I wish I had it (it is not available in Kindle):

How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments by Edmund Clowney. I do not have access to this, but knowing Clowney’s theology and preaching I am sure it would be very useful. See the first review on Amazon for a good idea about this book.

The Ten Commandments in History: Mosaic Paradigms for a Well-Ordered Society also looks good (and I found it in my library), but I have not had very much time to look at this and I haven’t used it (almost) at all in my preparation. However, it seems worth looking at especially for its chapter on Jonathan Edwards etc.

My sermons (from the 5th commandment on) can be found here. They are from the early (10 a.m.) service because the second one is not recorded anymore. However, starting in March we will have only one service at 11:30 am.

Again – some material/notes for preaching the ten commandments should be poster here: Preaching the Ten Commandments.

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The RADICAL Disciple

John Stott is a great Christian teacher and example for many of us. He certainly is a model of humility and passion for me. There are a few people I know who are so dedicated to help the Majority World get a firm grasp on the Scripture and Christian discipleship.

I am currently reading his book (thank God the semester is over J) The Radical Disciple. You can find a fine review of this book here.

This is a much needed book for any Christian, especially the typical suburban American one who is all too happy to live in a nice neighborhood taking his children weekly to AWANA in a nice $30K + car with climate control, and who gives to mission sparingly (both of his time and money). In other words, this should be a great book for me, because it is a call to radical discipleship.

Here are a few highlights from the introduction (my emphasis):

“My concern in this book is that we who claim to be disciples of the Lord Jesus will provoke him to say again: “Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

For genuine discipleship is wholehearted discipleship [radical came from radix = root – anybody whose opinions went to the roots and was thoroughgoing in their commitment]…

Our common way of avoiding radical discipleship is to be selective: choosing the areas in which commitment suits us and staying away from those areas in which it will be costly. But because Jesus is Lord, we have no right to pick and choose the areas in which we will submit to his authority.

AMEN! Hard to argue with that!

In this book Stott looks at “eight characteristics of Christian discipleship that are often neglected and yet deserve to be taken seriously.” These are: nonconformity, Christlikeness, maturity, creation care, simplicity, balance, dependence, and death.”

I am already beginning to like this book and I hope to post more info about it soon.

You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am (John 13:13). It is time we OBEY HIM!


2010 European Christian Book of the Year

It is nice to see that evangelical Romanians are “coming of age”, and that both Baptists and Pentecostals are looking back to try to uncover the people who collaborated with the Secret Police (securitate) from within their own ranks.

The Baptists (Daniel Mitrofan) published a few years ago Pigmei and Uriasi [Dwarfs and Giants], and the Pentecostals (Vasilica Croitor) just published Rascumpararea Memoriei [The Redemption of Memory].

While I have not read any of these books (I only read about them), both books ruffled a lot of feathers. For that I am not surprised.

It seems (again from second hand info) that the Pentecostal book is more balanced and fair. In any case, congratulations to Vasilica Croitor for winning the 2010 European Christian Book of the Year.

I assume that it is a pretty good book if it won this award and I hope to read both of them someday to learn from both the dwarfs and the giants!


Bible Briefs – For Your Study of the Bible

I just found out about some Bible Briefs published by Virginia Theological Seminary.

While I have not read any of them yet (I just downloaded a few), they pretend to be “highly readable pamphlets introducing the books of Scripture. Each pamphlet presents a concise (tract-size), stimulating introduction to a biblical book from either the Old or New Testaments to begin adventuring through the actual Scriptures.”

The following paragraphs are also from their website:

Feel free to print out these PDF downloads and use them for group study, for personal Bible study, or as a resource for sermons.

Created in partnership with Forward Movement Publications, Bible Briefs is a long term project aimed at producing introductions to all 66 books of the Bible. As new research and insight into the Scriptures emerges, we will produce new, up-to-date pamphlets to be available alongside older, classic ones. As we press forward with excitement, we encourage your support by using and spreading the word about these materials. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Let me know if you find any of them useful!


Wells on the ‘Marketers’

Here I am reading David Wells’ book The Courage to Be Protestant. It is a very useful read and it has many quotable passages.

Here is one on the Bill Hybels and Rick Warren type of churches [p. 14]:

Here also were churches smelling of coffee and reverberating with edgy music…The music is contemporary…Rap or heavy metal would not be cool.

What results, all too often, beneath all the smiling crowds, the packed auditoria, is a faith so cramped, limited, and minuscule as to be entirely unable to command our life, our energies, or, as a matter of fact, even much of our attention. One church advertises itself as a place where you will find “loud music” and “short services.”
It has a “casual atmosphere” but, it wants us to know, it also offers “serious faith.”

This is always the rub in this experiment: the form greatly modifies the content.  The loud music and short services are part of the FORM, but the form, put together to be pleasing, actually undermines the seriousness of faith.  The form is in fact the product, and in this market the sale has to be done quickly and as painlessly as possible because the customers have itchy feet.  This greatly militates against the seriousness any church wants to have. And that is why a deep chasm has opened between the church marketers and historic Protestant orthodoxy.  It is less that the truths of this orthodoxy are assailed than they are seen to be irrelevant to the building of the church.  They are, it is believed, an impediment to success…

No comment, but you may want to look at the useful review by Trevin Wax.


FORMATIO – Ancient Christian Devotional

I am excited about a new book I just bought:   Ancient Christian Devotional (Lectionary Cycle C).

This book is from the InterVarsity Press FORMATIO series (Tradition – Experience – Transformation).

FORMATIO books from InterVarsity Press are about “being transformed by Christ and conformed to his image,” and they intend to integrate God’s Word with spiritual practice by prompting its readers “to move from inward change to outward witness.”

“We believe that each of us is made with a deep desire to be in God’s presence.  Formatio books are intended to help “fulfill  our deepest desires and to become our true selves in light of God’s grace.”

I must say that the goals of the FORMATION series are most worthy, and I am looking forward to ‘swimming’ in this book.  After all, St. Chrysostom gives very good advice (quoted on the first page of this book):

Listen carefully to me.  Procure books [of the Bible] that will be medicines for the soul….Don’t simply dive into them.  Swim in them.  Keep them constantly in your mind.  (Homilies on Colossians 9)

This is a book  for Christians who lack the grounding in the riches of church history…who are rootless and are drifting in a barren secular and ecclesiastical landscape.

If you are one of those – consider this book to get rooted in the WORD!

Pastor Chris


A Great Offer From LOGOS

Thanks to  Philip Sumpter, I found out about a new offer from LOGOS.

Without his permission (though I am sure he would not mind), I post his message below.

LOGOS has come up with yet another mouth watering pre-pub offer which just makes me yearn … for money to be able to afford it all! This time its a large section of the so-called Continental Commentary Series, though I’m not entirely sure why it’s called “continental” and not just “German” (does “German” critical scholarship raise too many negative associations?).

So anyway, it costs $300 dollars instead of the Logos sale price of $600. If there is a random philanthropist out there looking for a budding Old Testament scholar to support, leave a note in the comments and I’ll send you my back details.

I especially like his last sentence, though I doubt that too many random philanthropists are roaming around, especially these days! 🙂


Back from ETS and SBL

I finally made it back to Amman, with a few more books and a lot less money.  There were many memorable moments during this trip – I will mention here only some highlights. 

I did get to meet John Piper.  That is right – I briefly shook his hand as he was browsing at ETS through the Christian Focus publications.  The conversation was brief (I kind of froze 😦 ), but it is still something to brag about. 🙂

We also had a wonderful dinner at ETS with (most of?) the Romanians present there.  I got the pleasure to meet Sorin Sabou (El-Roi Romanian Baptist Church in Chicago) and Adonis Vidu (Gordon-Conwell).  I also enjoyed the time with ‘older’ friends: Emil Bartos, George Hancock Stefan, and Radu Gheorghita. 

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A GOOD OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY

If you are interested to study the Old Testament in more depth and you are not sure what Old Testament Survey to look at, you may want to take a look at the following book (Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey ) by Arnold and Beyer.

This book usually costs about $50.00 and is now on sale at CBD for only $14.99 (see the link above).

The survey is clearly written with an evangelical perspective and has many great pictures, charts and insights. It is fairly easy to read and understand.

See a few reviews of the book here.

P.S. It seems that the low price is due to the fact that a new edition has been issued. Of course – that is more expensive.


Surprises in Church History II – “Black Puritans”*

A few other suprises about “black puritans” are found in the book of Thabiti M. Anyabwile (The Faithful Preacher).  I will mention here a few from the introduction of John Piper to this book.

 Did you know that in 1835 the South Carolina Assembly passed a law that said, “[If] any free person of color or slave shall keep any school or other place of instruction for teaching any slave or free person of color to read or write, such free person of color or slave shall be liable to the same fine, imprisonment, and corporal punishment as are by this Act imposed and afflicted upon free persons of color and slaves for teaching slaves to read or write”? 

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