On April 20-21, Bethlehem College & Seminary and Crossway cohosted the Theologians on the Christian Life Conference.
John Piper kicked off the conference by answering questions given to him by Justin Taylor. I found the interaction both inspiring and enjoyable as Piper helps listeners understand the important role of biography in the Christian life.
Piper addresses a similar struggle many people have in reading biography—it can be hard to persevere. I'm convinced this is because many biographies are just poorly written. Therefore, choosing a well written biography is actually more important than choosing any biography of your favorite historical figure at random.
Here is a short list of biographies I have read and recommend:
If you are just beginning to read Christian biography, I recommend you start with the Theologians on the Christian Life series. I have found each of the books to be helpful in understanding the personal life & ministry of the theologian while also offering insights into how their view of the Christian life can impact our own. Tolle lege!
I recently received an advanced copy of Matt Perman's forthcoming book How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity. The book releases on Amazon May 1, 2018.
Here is an endorsement from Todd Wilson, Senior Pastor at Calvary Memorial Church:
I'm a big fan of Matt Perman's work. If you can imagine a cross between theologian Jonathan Edwards and Getting Things Done guru David Allen, then you have in your head a picture of Matt Perman. No one combines theological substance with practical and transformative self-management insights like Matt. His What's Best Next was hugely helpful--and I couldn't be more excited about his thoughtful and imminently practical new book How to Get Unstuck. Nothing faddish or superficial here. This is God-centered and gospel-driven wisdom--the best of self-management insights set within a genuinely Christian framework of flourishing in Christ. Highly recommended!
Who isn't busy?
From work deadlines, projects at home, the kid's soccer practice, and everything in between—busyness is a concept all people can relate with. A busy Mom at my church once described her life as "something between a perpetual summer camp and a three-ring circus"—perhaps you can relate!
And yet there is a great danger lurking in living a life filled to the brim with "many things." Pastor and Author Kevin DeYoung expounds on this when he writes:
"As Christians, our lives should be marked by joy, taste like joy, and be filled with the fullness of joy. Busyness attacks all of that. One study found that commuters experience greater levels of stress than fighter pilots and riot police... When our lives are frantic and frenzied, we are prone to anxiety, resentment, impatience, and irritability all the while neglecting God... Busyness has killed more Christians than bullets."
So here is the question: is it wrong to be busy? After all, Jesus Himself was busy going from town to town, healing people and preaching the gospel. The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians in 2 Thess. 3 that he toiled “day and night” for the sake of the gospel. In many respects, God calls us to be busy with Him as He works in the world.
The Bible, however, never advocates for the kind of busyness that is always looking ahead at the “next” thing, causing one to miss out on enjoying God's presence in the moment. Here is how I would define it: Busyness (the kind that hinders us from knowing Jesus more deeply) is the habit of running toward “the next” while missing God in “the now.”
This is precisely the danger of busyness. We become so concentrated about what’s coming next that we miss God in the now. Adele Calhoun reflects on this danger in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook when she writes,
"We can get so busy doing urgent things and so preoccupied with what comes next that we don’t experience the now. Afraid of being late, we rush from the past to the future. The present moment becomes a crack between what we did and what we have yet to do. It is virtually lost to us. We don’t get to our futures any faster if we hurry. And we certainly don’t become better people in haste. More likely than not, the faster we go the less we become."
The danger of this is that we live a life so full of "do" that there is never any time to "be" with Jesus. So here is the question: will you embrace Him moment-by-moment, enjoying His presence in all that you do or will you rush quickly from one thing to the next? You choose.
*I preached a message on this very topic in November of 2017. You can listen to the message here.
Every year I have some sort of plan for reading through the Bible. Last year I took it slow and digested particular books of the Bible through inductive study and meditation (Philippians, John, Psalms). A few years ago I read through the entire Bible accompanied with a reading plan for Jim Hamilton's God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment (highly recommend) and really enjoyed it.
This year I am reading through the entire Bible accompanied by Tom Schreiner's The King in His Beauty. Schreiner is one of my favorite theologians for the reason being that he does Biblical Theology so well in all of his writings (E.g. His book on covenants). The King in His Beauty is a beautiful culmination of deep theological reflection coupled with a cohesive thread Schreiner masterfully weaves through each book of the Bible.
The book is broken into nine parts:
Each "part" groups books of the Bible together to give the reader a well-rounded, cohesive view of the entire canon. Schreiner's goal is that the reader would leave the book with a greater understanding of the "major themes in the narrative" (p. xii, TKIHB). I believe that a careful reading of Schreiner's book, accompanied with focused Bible reading, will help you see the broader story line of the Bible in each book of the Old and New Testament.
I commend you to read through the Bible this year with TKIHB as an aid for helping you grow in your knowledge and love of God. You can find one-year and two-year reading plans here. May the Lord bless you and keep you as you read His Word this year!
I love the annual THINK conference at College Park Church. So much in fact that my wife and I have weaved it into our anniversary celebrations over the years--romantic, I know. It's safe to say that I love THINK. But why? Three reasons stick out:
1. The emphasis on theological development.
A.W. Tozer is known for stating that the most important thing about you is what you think about when you think about God. I love that. By definition, everyone is a theologian because everyone has a view of God. The question is not—am I a theologian? The question is—am I a good one? Yet in my experience churchmen tend to gravitate towards other things: Christian practice, spiritual disciplines, social justice, and practical theology. While all of these things are good and right, they must be surrounded by an accurate biblical-theological framework in order to function the way God intended. THINK has served as a theological pulse check for me every year—reminding me of what is important. Namely, my view of God.
2. No matter who you are—you learn.
Bruce Ware. Jim Hamilton. Erwin Lutzer. D.A. Carson. John Piper. Ravi Zacharias. Every year the featured THINK speakers never fail to deliver robust theological truths in engaging ways. From the book of Jeremiah to an overview of the life of Martin Luther, each presentation I've ever listened to has left me captivated and inspired to learn more. So whether you are a new believer or a seasoned minister, you are guaranteed to walk away from THINK wishing it lasted longer.
3. Lots of (cheap) books.
One of the biggest perks of attending the THINK conference is the huge selection of solid books on sale for 40-75% off their original price.
I have friends that literally wait to buy books all year until the THINK conference because they can save hundreds of dollars. This is a great service to the church and a huge incentive to attend THINK.
THINK|18 is coming up March 2-3, 2018. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries will be speaking on apologetics and defending the faith. I encourage you to sign-up and attend. Soli Deo Gloria!