Book of the Month

Uneclipsing the Son ~ Week 3

Posted by on Aug 30, 2011 in Book of the Month | 0 comments

 This month I’m reviewing the book Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland. Come back each week for a look at what God teaches me through this excellent read. During the first week of September I will be giving away a signed copy of the book! Stay tuned!!

For the week one’s review of the first two chapters, click here. For last weeks review of chapter 3-5, click here.

Last week we learned that Jesus Christ the Son IS eternal life, IS our mediator, and IS the way to KNOW God. This week we will see how this practically looks in our personal life

The Word and Words

Have you ever wanted God to show Himself to you the way those in the Old Testament saw Him? You know, pillars of clouds? Parting seas? Hearing God’s voice? Even though Moses lived during this time of amazing miracles, he still longed (and asked!) to see God’s glory. God responded to this request by saying, “I will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’.” Ex. 33:19 Later, in First Samuel God chooses to speak to Samuel repeatedly in order to teach this young man about His God.

God wants, longs, and desires for us to know Him. He chose to reveal Himself to us by Communicating to us with the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 This Word is Jesus! “In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.” Hebrews 1:2. Interestingly, the Greek phrase at the end of this verse actually says ‘spoken to us in Son.God’s language is Jesus.

Do you speak Son? The incarnation is God’s best, clearest, most perfect language. Have you, singly and totally, comprehensively and exclusively, received that Communication? Have you, like Moses, and Samuel, ceased pursuing some fleeting experience and instead begun to build you life upon His revelation. pg. 74

God also chose to give us the Word in a book. We can use our imaginations to explore the Scriptures and feel like we are in the story. To understand and see Jesus in the pages of the Bible, we need to first, know the Savior. Only the Holy Spirit can teach us the Scripture. We also need to meditate on this Word. As we read a few verses, we should stop and ponder the story or truth. What would it be like to sit listening to Jesus preach His famous Sermon on the Mount? How would it feel to sit on the ark for several months straight?

Once we meditate on these scriptures, we must learn and apply God’s way in order to see the Son. Because knowing the Bible is knowing Jesus! And one glorious day, we will see the Word face to face!

Are you willing to look for Jesus in the Scriptures? Because he’s willing to be found there. You will only make the effort to uneclipse Jesus if you are convinced that the Son behind the eclispse is worth the effort. And friends, only the Bible will convince you of that. pg. 80

Satan’s Associates

Unfortunately, just reading the Bible isn’t enough. Things get in the way. And by “things”, I mean ourselves….and our sin.  Do you ever feel frustrated that you cannot see the Son as you want? That is a good sign! You are ready to fight this battle against your own flesh and sin.

One step we must do to fight our sin is to recognize where we are weak. I have numerous sins that I struggle with, but one in particular is pride in thinking I need to control situations that God has given others jurisdiction over. You may not struggle with this, but with something that I have no problem with. The point? Know where you’re weak so that you can be on guard against Satan’s attacks in that area.

While Satan can tempt us, the real temptations come from within our own soul.

This eclipse that’s blocking the Son comes from within you. Satan knows what your temptations are. These associates in your heart make you inclined to certain sins, and just understanding these entrenched realities is tremendously important if you move toward the perfect light of the Son. pg. 87

It’s often hard for those in our society (maybe even for you) to not blame others for your problems. Your problem, my problem, is sin. God killed His Son for how bad YOU are.

“Anything you indulge in that contradicts the obedient worship of Christ is a wrongful worship. You’ve made yourself an idol, a substitute that shades you from Christ’s glory.” pg. 88

How do we stop sinning? 

Jesus

Think about Him. Learn about Him. Spend time with Him. Worship Him.

Yes, it’s that simple. We have to make Jesus more beautiful, satisfying, and precious that what’s between us and Him. Then we can sing along with the old hymn, “My Jesus I love Thee. I know Thou art mine, for Thee all the follies of sin I resign.”

 

Jesus, Married?

Despite the myths that Jesus had relations with earthly women, we know from Scripture that He never had a girlfriend, wife, or mistress. However, Jesus does have a bride in those who are saved – the Church. Unfortunately, the Church as a whole has forgotten that we exist for the Son, not for ourselves. Church isn’t solely about me, community, and how to deal with others and the world. No, we exist to give glory to the Father! “Perhaps many who are discontent with the church simply haven’t found contentment in Jesus.” (pg. 99)

First, understand that as a Christian you need to be in church. You need help from friends who are also focusing on our Lord. Second, remember that the church belongs to Jesus. The first time the church is mentioned in Scripture is in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus states, “I will build My church.” This is also the same passage that affirms Christ as the Messiah. He has saved us. We are His. Third, Christ builds the Church for Himself. We grow, learn, worship, reach out, etc. for HIM!  Fourth, we attend Church to learn. “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:13. Fifth, we can worship Jesus by serving and caring for others. “Caring is essential to worship; worship always involves caring.” pg. 108

We should minister to other’s within the church (love, serve, bear burdens, etc. ‘one to another’). But, “if we are not filled with His Spirit and worshiping Him through His Word, the ‘one anothers’ are fruitless.” (pg. 105) In regards to non-Christians, we must remember that the Church is not designed for them. Of course, we should rejoice when unbelievers come to know Jesus in Church, but the primary purpose of the Church is for believers to be equipped to go into the world and preach the gospel. 

The goal of gathering is to come to maturity in Christ. The goal of our relationships is to encourage and spur one another on to maturity in Christ. The church exists for Jesus, for maturity in Jesus, for knowledge in Jesus, for growth in Jesus, growth to Jesus. pg. 103

 

Thanks for reading this lengthy post. Stay tuned next week for the last installment of this series, as well as an opportunity to win the book to read for yourself!

 

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Uneclipsing the Son ~ Week 2

Posted by on Aug 23, 2011 in Book of the Month | 0 comments

 This month I’m reviewing the book Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland. Come back each week for a look at what God teaches me through this excellent read. During the first week of September I will be giving away a signed copy of the book! Stay tuned!!

For last week’s review of the first two chapters, click here

 Eternal Life is Not What You Think

When you hear the phrase “eternal life,” what pops into your mind? I will admit, there have been times when I thought that existing forever and ever and ever could get, well, a little boring. Unfortunately, most Christians view eternal life as nothing more than living in heaven for the rest of eternity. We love the verses that promise this life to us, but do we understand or know what eternal life actually is?

Rick Holland uses Jesus’ prayer from the gospel of John to clearly explain eternal life to us. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3

Jesus doesn’t describe eternal life as being alive forever in heaven with a mansion and gold streets. No, Jesus simply says that eternal life is knowing the one and only God and knowing Him through Jesus Christ. See, we don’t become a Christian simply to gain eternal life; becoming a Christian is a life-long pursuit of knowing Jesus!

What does that feel like? It’s all about appraising Jesus as infinitely and personally precious. It is about a conscious, deliberate enjoyment of His worth… when Jesus defined eternal life as knowing God through Himself, He placed the ultimate reality – living forever – in the dimension of a relationship, not the space-time continuum. pg. 35, 36

Paul shares in Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” This popular verse shows that Christ should be central to ALL that we do in both life and death. We must understand that eternal life is more that just existing forever and ever in heaven, it is a complete and total refocusing of the purpose and meaning of life! “To live is to know Jesus; to die is to be with Him forever – infinite gain!”

The Distance Between Heaven and Earth

We have a problem. Yes, a problem with God. Thankfully, He gave us the solution – Jesus Christ. But, for us to understand how precious this solution, Jesus, should be to us, we must first understand the problem.

This problem can be broken into two points. One, God is infinitely separated from us. He is the High King, the Lord of lords, above the Heavens, greater than all others. HE is Most High. Secondly, this magnificent God is constantly at work in my life, your life, and the lives of people all around the world. How are we to deal with this God problem – this God who is far too amazing to reach and so close we could never hide from Him?

Job asked this same question. Rick Holland goes into great detail describing Job’s musings as he ponders this God problem. (Usually we only hear about the first two chapters of Job, but Dr. Holland offers excellent insight into the rest of Job’s story.) Job struggles with the ability to understand righteousness, salvation, justice, and God Himself. He longs for a mediator to represent God in a way a commoner can understand.

God has now solved this problem! “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2:15 This is God in human form – Jesus – fully God and truly man.

Jesus alone spans the distance between heaven and earth. He offers His nail-scarred hands to those who want to draw close to the faraway God. For those who feel their need for God and those who are wounded by this world. He suffered divine abandonment so that we would not have to.” pg. 56

Staring at the Son

Now that we know what eternity is and who solves our God problem, we must learn to STARE at this SON! But, Jesus is invisible, right? He doesn’t appear to us in person, does He? “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21) 

If we do two things ~ keep Christ’s commands and love our Lord ~ something exciting will happen in our life.

We see Christ now, and the more we know Him and the more we study Him, the more we become like the clear image we see of Him. pg. 59

First, we must do more than just know what is right, we must do it!

We must set ourselves to study the Scriptures and to obey all that Christ is revealed to be in them because sin dampens our affections and dulls our souls to our only hope of satisfaction. Sin is the moon that eclipses the Son. You will never have any prospect of experiencing the presence of Jesus promised in John 14:21 unless your life is set on a course of obedience. Sin will obscure the glory of Christ and you’ll plod forward in that nightish day of semi-Christianity, a shadowland of discouraging uncertainty. pg. 61

Second, we must love the Son with faith and understanding. This love will control everything about us. He will be what we long for, what we desire, what we hope for, our favorite thoughts and memories. This true love for Jesus will control all of our other affections and emotions.

When we are obeying our Savior and loving Him, we can bask in His glory! Won’t you pray today that you can look fully at the Son, our Mediator, and our Eternal Life!

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Uneclipsing the Son ~ Week 1

Posted by on Aug 10, 2011 in Book of the Month | 0 comments

 This month I’m reviewing the book Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland. Come back each week for a look at what God teaches me through this excellent read. During the last week of August I will be giving away a signed copy of the book! Stay tuned!!

 The Conclusion

Many Christians today do not feel close to God. They feel that they are simply a hamster running every day on the tiring “christian” wheel – attempting (and often feeling like a failure ) to read the Bible daily, spend adequate time in prayer, witness to others, be at church, read enough Christian books, etc., etc., etc.

“I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly,“  Jesus stated in John 10:10. The word abundantly means “exceptional.” Do you feel that you live the exceptional Christian life?

Rick Holland begins his book by sharing his purpose for writing. Rather than keep the reader guessing, he explains that the reason we are not living this type of life is not the Son’s fault, “but with us who have allowed Him to be… eclipsed.” We have allowed the busyness of Christian life to crowd out Jesus. He has become a part of our life and not the point of our life. 

Have you ever felt that your Christian life wasn’t what it could be? I know I have! The conclusion, the answer and cure, to this problem is JESUS!

I am confident that if you will focus the eyes of your faith on the value of the Savior, you will emerge from the doldrums of the eclipse and enjoy the glory of the Son. (pg. 12)

Amazing Love, How Can it Be?

When you begin to hear someone share a gospel centered message, talking about how Jesus died to save your from your sins, do you simply begin to think about something else, waiting to hear something “new”? GUILTY! I can’t remember the first time I heard that Jesus died for me. Yes, I’m thankful that the gospel was presented to me from birth, but how do I wish these truths, and this display of LOVE, gripped me each and every time I heard it.

Holland dissects Romans 5 to show the reader how great the gospel truly is! I challenge you to go pick up your Bible right now and read that chapter (or click here) . God doesn’t use words like helpless, ungodly, and sinner on accident. We MUST understand these words to truly allow the phrase Christ died for us to make us feel what we should.

Only when we understand how wicked we truly are – how desperate our condition is, how hopeless and helpless our plight – will we know to reach for the gospel remedy. We will never understand the greatness of the gospel if we do not pause to consider the greatness of the need it was designed to satisfy. (pg. 18-19)

We are sinners. We have done wrong (Rom. 3:23) All of our good deeds are like filthy, dirty, nasty rags to God (Is. 64:6). We don’t seek Him (Rom. 3:11). We can do no good thing. We are DEAD (Eph. 2:1).

But God LOVED us. He sent His Son for US – for ME – for YOU – while we were SINNERS, while we were running from God, while we were His ENEMIES. He still chose to save us!

THIS is amazing love!

THIS love should make us EXCITED!!!

Can you see through your circumstances to exult in Jesus? Do you have a faith that longs for sight? Has the gospel make you tremble lately? Has it made you weep for joy? Has it settled you with a deep and satisfying peace? Can you say with unabashed happiness, “It’s good not to be in trouble with God”? (pg. 27)

Take a moment today to REJOICE in the Gospel that saves and ask God to continue to give you an excitement for Him!

If you’re interested in hearing Dr. Holland preach an excellent message over Romans 5, click here and scroll down to the date 1/22/11 and listen to Session 2, “What’s so Great About the Gospel.”

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This Momentary Marriage ~ Week 4

Posted by on Jul 9, 2010 in Book of the Month, Marriage | 0 comments

Well, here it is. Two plus months, I finally finished This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. Although it took me twice as long as I’d planned, I’m so grateful that I read this book!! I periodically try to read books on marriage because I think that having God’s truth refresh, strengthen, and encourage my mind proves extremely beneficial to my personal growth and attitude towards marriage.

This book has been especially helpful to read over the past few months as Matt and I have been moving into the transition of balancing parenting and marriage. I know that this will be a lifelong process.  Our goal is that from day one, we will always hold our relationship with each other as husband and wife above all other human relationships.

If you’re looking for a good book to read on a biblical view of marriage, whether your married or single, check out This Momentary Marriage for free on Piper’s website. You’ll be glad you did!

In the last three chapters of this book, Piper dives into some pretty debatable topics. He even says that very few people, even among his conservative pastor friends, agree with him. The main topic he expounds on is divorce and remarriage. Now, I could try to succinctly tell you Piper’s views, but I feel to give them justice, I would need to expound on them in detail. Rather than doing that, I will encourage you to pick up or download the book to read for yourself.  He has given me a lot to chew on, so I don’t want to fully comment on whether or not I agree with his take on this subject. Maybe one of these days I’ll do a blog series on it, but until then, check out the book.

One thing I do know for certain is that Piper’s desire to show that marriage is a picture of Christ and His church has embedded itself in my mind. I find myself looking at my marriage in a different light because of it. The Bible talks about how life is but a vapor, here today, gone tomorrow. Marriage is the same way. This temporal life is so short; my marriage will be here today then gone tomorrow. While I need to be completely devoted, loyal to, and in love with my husband, how much more do I need to have that mindset with my relationship with Christ? HE is the one I will live with forever – devoted to, serving, and loving. I leave you with a few closing quotes from John Piper. My prayer is that my marriage, along with yours, can be an example to the world around us of Christ and His love for His bride and in return, her devotion to Him.

“I pray that we will all recognize the deepest and highest meaning of marriage – not sexual intimacy, as good as that is, not friendship, or mutual helpfulness, or childbearing, or child-rearing, but the flesh-and-blood display on the world of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. That is what I pray you will pursue, in your marriage or in your singleness.”

“[Marriage] is a momentary gift. It may last a lifetime, or it may be snatched away on the honeymoon. Either way, it is short. It may have many bright days, or it may be covered with clouds. If we make secondary things primary, we will be embittered at the sorrow we must face. But if we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way. Every one of them will be, not an obstical to success, but a way to succeed. The beauty of the coevenant-keeping love between Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it.

“Very soon the shadow will give way to Reality. The partial will pass into the Perfect. The foretaste will lead to the Banquet. The troubled path will end in Paradise. A hundred candle-lit evening will come to their consummation in the marriage supper of the Lamb. And this momentary marriage will be swallowed up by Life. Christ will be all and in all. And the purpose of marriage will be complete.”

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This Momentary Marriage ~ Week 3

Posted by on Jun 14, 2010 in Book of the Month, Uncategorized | 0 comments

This week I have decided to break from Week 1 and Week 2′s format and simply type out my favorite quotes from the four chapters I read out of John Piper’s book: This Momentary Marriage.

Man-wife-children families are temporary blessings for this age. In the age to come, they will not exist (Matt. 22:23-30). But the church will exist as family forever. This has profound implications for how singles and married people think about each other and relate to each other.

And when his own mother and brothers asked to see Him, Jesus said, ” ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, the said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!” (Matt.22:30). Jesus is turning everything around. Yes, he loved his mother and his brothers. But those are all natural and temporary relationships. He did not come into the world to focus on that. He came into the world to call out a people for his name from all the families of the earth into a new family where single people in Christ are full-fledged members on a par with all others, bearing fruit for God and becoming mothers and fathers of the eternal kind.

“Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” a woman cried out to Jesus. And he turned and said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28) The mother of God is the obedient Christian – married or single! Take a deep breath and reorder your world.

Single person, married person, do you want children, mothers, brothers, sisters, lands? Renounce the primacy of your natural relationships and follow Jesus into the fellowship of the people of God. (see Mark 10:29-30)

Marriage and singleness both present us with unique trials and unique opportunities for our sanctification – our preparation for heaven. There will be unique rewards for each. Which is greater will not depend on whether you were married or single, but how you responded to each.

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This Momentary Marriage ~ Week 2

Posted by on Jun 8, 2010 in Book of the Month | 0 comments

Every time I open the pages to this book, I am flooded with Scripture and godly wisdom which leads to conviction. This weeks is no exception.  The topics covered in this weeks chapters are the biblical roles of both men and women. Before jumping in to specifics, Piper reminds us that marriage’s primary goal is to glorify God and be an example to the world of Christ’s relationship with His church. “Staying in love isn’t the first task of marriage. It is the happy overflow of covenant-keeping for Christ’s sake.” With this foundation, the expectations of both men and women surface to unique and capable identities.

Piper spends twice as much time discussing the man’s role. I love the title of the chapters: Lionhearted & Lamblike. As a picture of Jesus who was both the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God, Piper gives this description: strong and meek, tough and tender, aggressive and responsive, bold and brokenhearted. These qualities should be what each husband strives for in his personal life.

The husband’s role can be characterized by one word: headship. The definition given for headship is: “the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.” Protection and provision are the primary expressions of the husband’s leadership and express themselves in both the physical and spiritual realm.

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