Great books for your own research!

This weekend at Oak Grove we will be beginning our series called “Singleness, Sex and Homosexuality”.  With that in mind I realize that you may want to do some research on your own and so I want to share with you some of the books that I benefited the most from in my study.  This week and I will be addressing the topic of “Sex in Marriage” and I want to recommend two books to you:

Sex and the glory of God

The first is called: Sex, Romance and the Glory of God by C.J. Mahaney.  This book can be summed up by this quote: “You must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body!”

The second is called: Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat. This is a great work concerning the role of sex in marriage.  I highly recommend reading this.

Intended for pleasure

You can buy these on Amazon in a hard copy or for your Kindle!

Great books for your own research!

Humility or Truth? Can we have both?

I am in the middle of some of the deepest studying that I have done in a long time in preparation for talking about some very sensitive subjects.  Most of my study has been deeply gratifying, however some of it has led me to grieving.  The grieving has come whenever I have been confronted with a person who holds the same truths that I do and yet inappropriately attacks and abuses those who have (at least for now) arrived at a different conclusion.  This got me thinking and reminded me of a book that I read years ago called: Humble OrthodoxyHolding the truth high without putting people down.  I re-read that book this week and here are a few of the key thoughts that were extremely helpful to me:

Humble orthodoxy

When it comes to truth – that is not about you and me – the truth is not my truth, it’s not our truth; it comes from God.  However, we can and should be certain and humble at the same time.  People can and should expect us to be kind. – Joshua Harris

For this simple reason: Christians believe that they understand truth only because God has revealed it to them.  In other words, Christians are humble because their understanding of truth is not based on their own intelligence, their own research, their own acumen.  Rather, it is 100% dependent on the grace of God.  Christian knowledge is a dependent knowledge.  And that leads to humility.  This obviously doesn’t mean all Christians are personally humble.  But, it does mean they should be, and have adequate grounds to be.”  – New Testament Professor – Michael Kruger

The message of Christianity isn’t that I’m right and someone else is wrong.  It’s that I am wrong and yet God is filled with grace.  I am wrong and yet God has made a way for me to be forgiven and accepted and loved for eternity.  I am wrong, and yet God gave his Son, Jesus, to die in my place and receive my punishment.  I am wrong, but through faith in Jesus, I can be made right before a holy God. – Joshua Harris

Each of these statements contains within it a reminder that there is certainly truth and that truth comes from God, however as recipients of that truth, we shouldn’t think any higher of ourselves, but instead higher of God!  We shouldn’t be a people who compare others to ourselves, but instead recognize that just like everyone else we are desperately in need of grace.  This only leaves one attitude: HUMILITY!

Let me leave you with this thought: Don’t measure yourself by what you know.  Measure yourself by your practice of what you know.

Humility or Truth? Can we have both?

Grace Changes Everything!

Grace changes everythingI am reading again, for the second time, one of the most formational books that I have ever read: The Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll.  If you haven’t read this book, let me encourage you to consider reading it.  While reading, this particular quote grabbed my attention:

There are many joys of being liberated that some of you have never known because you haven’t given yourself permission to operate under grace.  I don’t mean this to sound insulting, but I am convinced that some Christians would be terrified if they were completely on their own.  Because they have been told what to do for so many years, freedom is frightening.  There are people who want to be told what to do and when… how to believe and why.  And the result is tragic – perpetual adolescence. Without being trusted, without being freed, maturity never happens.  You never learn to think on your own.  

Perpetual adolescence!  What a great description.  May we recognize that the Spirit of God can and will guide us in areas that aren’t clear to develop our own convictions, and in so doing,teach us to think.  My hope is that we would know grace and the freedom found in it.

Grace Changes Everything!

Why Are So Many Sleeping?

Sleep is a precious word!  Whatever stage of life you find yourself in (except maybe the Christmas season as a small child) sleep is something that is very important to us.

Teenagers learn the value of sleep and act as if they will never be able to sleep again, so they get as much as they can.  (Maybe there is some truth to that as they enter into college next!  While in college, sleep is the friend that you never seem to see often enough!)

Once you become a parent, sleep is the thing that is ripped away from you like Lebron James rips a basketball out of a small child’s hands (insert Steph Curry jokes here).  Sleep is absolutely imperative to life.

Studies show that proper sleep improves brain function and creativity as well as the ability to make good decisions, but is it possible that in some situations we could be lulled to sleep and it actually be a bad thing?  Sleeping while driving is a problem.  Sleeping on the job just might get you fired!  More specifically, Spiritual sleep will cause hidden damage to your soul and to the lives of others!

HOLD ON

Let me take a minute and describe what I mean by spiritual sleep.  Spiritual sleep does not involve simply showing up in a church service, listening to monotonous music, and falling asleep to a boring communicator.

Spiritual sleep is much more like “sleep walking” than anything else.  When you are sleep walking, many things seem normal to others – you are walking, you might be talking, and yet you are not truly engaged (hence children often sleep walk into the wrong room to use the restroom…not fun).

So, let me share with you a few ways that I believe many are sleeping spiritually and what we can do about it.

  • First, spiritual sleep involves a blind eye to the spiritual standing of others: Christ-followers and non Christ-followers.  Whenever God’s church, who has been glorious rescued from darkness and sin, can see so many people without hope and not see the need to share Christ, then we are asleep with our eyes wide open.  Whenever we can see our brothers and sisters in sin and not lovingly confront, then we are asleep with our eyes wide open.  This is a problem.  Why is it that so many can come to the church and expect things for themselves and never have their eyes opened to the needs and eternal destiny of others?  Sleepy anyone?
  • Second, spiritual sleep involves the knowledge of the Scripture without the specific application of it.  Whenever you can sit and read the Scripture or hear the Scripture as a Christ-follower and not be moved to action, there is a problem.  Now, as a communicator, I recognize that at times the problem is with the communication, but often times we have grown complacent and are satisfied with sleep walking through life.  Spiritual maturity is about learning to do what the Scripture says.
  • Third, when your entire thought process for your faith has to do with you and what you need – you are sleeping spiritually.  Christ saved us so that we might be involved in purusing others.  So many people approach church involvement like a consumer:  I need this, this and this…as if it’s a grocery list.  However, our church involvement is really about the mission that Christ left us.  Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 5:

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again…All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on God’s behalf: be reconiled to God.”

So, today, I am asking the question, why are so many sleeping?  It’s true that many things will lull us to sleep, but isn’t it time that we wake up and begin to take action for Christ?  Will you repent of your sleep walking and self-centeredness and begin to embrace the mission Christ gave us?

Why Are So Many Sleeping?