In our fallen world, episodes of sickness, suffering, and other trials are all too common. And the Bible’s clear call for us to show Christian love and care means we know we shouldn’t sit idly by while people around us go through these tough times.
Yet our genuine concern for others is often hindered by valid fears—the fear of not knowing what to do or what to say; the fear of putting our foot in it and making things worse; or the fear that involvement may take us beyond our own personal resources.
In Together Through the Storm, Sally Sims helps us overcome these fears by setting out clear biblical foundations and very practical guidance for Christian care that is based in the word of God and in Christian hope.
Sally brings a tremendously useful mix of life experiences to this important book, including training and practice as a nurse, study in pastoral care and chaplaincy, extensive reading and research, years of coordinating and providing pastoral care in her church, and, of course, personally persevering through her own times of trial.
Reading Together Through the Storm will help any Christian to develop in their ability to care for others, but it also provides a useful foundation for training a ‘care team’ in your church.
“It is a book for every congregation member, as it so practically charts a pathway of how we should all care for each other in church life. At Moore College we seek to teach our students the elements of pastoral care. This book will certainly become part of our set reading, as it is one of the best books on the topic as well as being such a joy to read.”
~ Archie Poulos Head, Ministry Department, Moore College, Sydney
Meet Bart Ehrman, NY Times best-selling author of a run of books written to point out the flaws, weaknesses and inherent failures of Christianity.
As professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bart knows his stuff. He particularly knows, by his own admission, how to take apart the fluffy, cloistered faith of 19-year olds whose ideas about God have never been reasoned through. The simple, sing-a-song-on-Sunday-morning kind of faith Christian teens often live by is no match for Bart’s learned and well-formulated insights on textual criticism, the historical Jesus, how the NT developed, and the like.
And here’s the thing: his books, tours, televised debates and star-status presence is permeating colleges, schools and lecture halls world-wide. His ideas are in. And according to himself and those in his coterie, every honest scholar agrees with his findings. Yep, that’s his claim.
Why it Matters
Every now and then academia throws up a tour de force, some bright luminary under whose spell the world seems to bow. Now it’s Bart Ehrman’s turn. People – young people – and influencers are buying into his skepticism by the book load.
The problem is that our teens and college students are not generally equipped by churches to reason through their faith in a way that can grapple with Bart’s premises. They’re easy pickings at any college where some atheist lecturer – fueled by Bart’s fire – feels called to enlighten them. Right now, in our times, schools and colleges are the war zone and Bart is leading the charge against Scriptural integrity.
Help at Hand
Enter Drs Darrell Bock, Josh Chatraw and Andreas Kõstenberger with a nifty little book called TRUTH Matters – Confident Faith in a Confusing World. The fight is on. And, I’m glad to say, Bart Ehrman’s confident arguments turn out not the final word he claims them to be.
Tackling his main premises in short, punchy, youth-friendly style, these three authors show the flaws, suppositions and problems with Bart’s approach to the classic problems:
why is there suffering and does God care?
is the Bible really inspired by God?
what about contradictions in the Bible?
who put the Bible together?
how do we know Jesus rose from the dead?
This is extremely helpful, timely reading designed to give your teens and college-goers reasons for their faith. Tools for tackling Bart’s arrows. They show in quick strokes that Bart’s interpretations are selective and actually conceal a lot more than they reveal. Sort of like a tour guide choosing what antiquities they’ll show you, and want they choose to ignore.
TRUTH Matters is relevant, highly-readable and utterly necessary. It’s sized to fit snugly into a jacket pocket or shoulder bag. I strongly advise you to get hold of some copies and give them to Christian youngsters you know who need tools to hold onto their faith. Or for anyone with questions about the reliability of Christianity. Listen to comments from a few of the many scholars who’ve welcomed it:
“Truth Matters should be on every college freshsman’s reading list… the book’s rich content makes it an excellent resource for adults of all ages” – L.H. Cohick, professor of NT, Wheaton
“This is a very timely book… In a fashion that is both scholarly and accessible, the authors have provided a tremendous resource for the church.” – Michael J. Kruger, president Reformed Theological Seminary
“… a godsend, a clear and accessible resource for equipping Christian students to survive – and thrive – in our increasingly skeptical culture.” – Craig A. Smith, adjunct professor of NT, Denver Seminary
To coincide with Dr Darrell Bock’s lecture visit to the website.
LIVING ON THE ROCK brings together Colin Buchanan and Karen Pang for the first time, singing a crazy collection of songs speaking about the walk of following Jesus, of trust and belief and obedience, of comfort and wisdom, of facing temptation and seeing the richness of righteousness, the deceit of sin and the wonders of knowing and being known by God. A must for kids!CBD PRICE: R140SPECIAL PROMO: R125
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How are the kids doing? “Their lives are so busy. I feel like I’m just a taxi driver.”
How was the shopping mall today? “Too busy.”
Can you help me? “I’m busy at the moment.”
The fast-paced busyness of life that pushes God to the margins can easily turn into burnout. Lots of us are crying out for ways of handling the busyness before it does.
Yet expectations of keeping up with everything continually escalate, courtesy of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix, and the rest. We are all susceptible to the expectation that we always are available, aware of everything that is happening, and capable of achieving anything. Unsurprisingly, this demand to be omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent places pressure on all of us, whatever our level of social media dexterity.
“The fast-paced busyness of life that pushes God to the margins can easily turn into burnout.”
Add some more ingredients — inadequate sleep, poor dietary habits, caffeine addiction, the urge to project our preferred identity, a sedentary lifestyle — and we have the perfect recipe for unremitting anxiety and restlessness.
But each of us is, if you like, the chief cook in our own kitchen. We can choose to rethink the ingredients we stir into the mix of life that leave us feeling bloated and stressed rather than nourished and sustained. The 24/7 hustle and bustle is of our own making, at least to some extent. Just as people go on detox diets, we would do well to heed calls for digital detox and reconsider how much we try to pack into life. A good starter is the practical suggestions for a twelve-step digital detox by Tony Reinke, followed with the richly nourishing poetry of Wendell Berry’s This Day.
The futile attempt to sustain ourselves by our own efforts is not new. Our digital age simply offers new manifestations of the age-old temptation to usurp God’s role for ourselves. But against this age-old temptation, God offers an age-old response: what would happen to our 24/7 switched-on world if the people who came to Jesus for rest (Matthew 11:28) regularly took a day of rest from distraction, work, and busyness? What would this weekly habit have to offer to the world in which we find ourselves — a world that restlessly continues to search for peace amid busyness?
1. Taking a weekly day of rest is a sign that we desire God.
Taking one day a week to cease our strivings and focus on God shouts out that we desire God above status, financial reward, promotion in the workplace, achievement, and all other things that would distract us from the one we love.
“Taking one day a week to cease our strivings and focus on God shouts out that we desire God above all else.”
Not taking time with someone we love when given the chance is a sure sign of diminished desire to be with them, to reflect together on the good times spent together in the past, and to consider what the future holds. When we specifically and intentionally set a day a week aside to focus on the Lord, as the old covenant people of God were commanded to do as they journeyed (Exodus 16:23, 25), we signal to the world that our hearts belong to him.
Treasuring a day of rest and worship lets people know where our heart lies.
2. Taking a weekly day of rest is a sign that we trust God.
Taking one day a week to let go of our endeavors to survive the present and prepare for the future shows that we trust God that his provision for the present is adequate and his promise for the future is sure.
When we have a weekly rhythm of a day of rest, we stand alongside the old covenant saints who trusted God to provide for their needs (Exodus 16:22–30). We stand alongside Jesus, who rejected Satan’s attempt to convince him to look after his own needs, by recalling that we live not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Matthew 4:4).
We live with integrity as people who pray “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), and then trust God to do it. As finite creatures, we declare our trust in the resources of the infinite Creator, who provides us with every blessing (Ephesians 1:3; 1 Timothy 6:17). When we commit to enjoy a weekly day of rest in the busiest seasons of life (see Exodus 34:21), we declare our trust in God even more loudly.
3. Taking a weekly day of rest proclaims Christ’s supremacy.
Taking one day a week to loosen our hearts’ grip on our own achievements clears space for remembering and reminding each other of Christ’s achievements. Everything we cannot do, even with endless striving, Christ has done already. In our rest, we proclaim that he has fulfilled the requirement of perfect obedience to his Father (Romans 8:3–4). We proclaim that he has provided the true rest our pursuit of leisure activities and restless sleep cannot provide (Matthew 11:28–30).
“Everything we cannot do, even with endless striving, Christ has done already.”
Since those who die in the Lord will rest from their hard labor (Revelation 14:13), resting one day a week now helps us to remember and prepare for that future, when at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess he is Lord (Philippians 2:10–11). We declare that our ambition is much bigger than career progression, or status elevation, or completing earthly tasks — it is to make Christ known.
4. Taking a weekly day of rest declares our freedom.
Freeing one day a week from the tyranny of the urgent and the never-finished to-do list reminds us and those around us that we are no longer slaves. The original recipients of the command to rest one day in seven were reminded that the Lord rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). But for Israel — and for us — redemption from physical bondage was merely a picture of the greater freedom from sin and death (Romans 6:15–23). We see more clearly than did Israel that we “were called to freedom” (Galatians 5:13), and therefore our cause for remembrance and celebration is greater.
We take a day of rest not by obligation, but out of a greater desire to pause, to remember, to look forward, and to worship. Declaring that we freely choose to celebrate freedom is a message sorely needed by those who are enslaved to the obligations of busyness and who feel like they cannot escape the tyranny of burnout.
A timely book to encourage our men this Father’s Day.
Real Valor is classic Steve Farrar. It’s punchy, masculine, and peppered with little-known or quirky scenarios to flesh out his premise. This book is the third in the Bold Men of God series written to encourage men to rise up and shepherd their families.
Essentially, Farrar looks at the life of Boaz and how his responses to the pressures of a tough world ensured that the new family in his life, Ruth and Naomi, were blessed. Ultimately, thanks to his principled decision-making, his actions led to the Messiah coming through his lineage.
Farrar looks at how Ruth and Naomi were initially cursed with the results of Elimelech’s poor choices. As Naomi’s husband, his bad decisions took them out of God’s blessing and into the rewards of disobedience. Boaz, on the other hand, based his decisions on God’s revealed principles and reaped His blessings. He faced the same pressures that Elimelech did (think drought, famine), yet didn’t try to escape them.
As usual, Farrar frequently illustrates from his own life and experiences. It makes for highly accessible and engaging reading. I recommend this book for those wanting to encourage their husbands and dads to stand strong.
In our times of extreme moral decline, our men need all the encouragement they can get, and Farrar shoots straight.
What the bible really says about love Written by: John Bloom
Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1–2).
This teaching of Jesus is widely misunderstood. A common reduction we often hear is, “Don’t judge me.” What’s interesting is that this reduction is the inverse application of Jesus’s lesson. Jesus is not telling others not to judge us; he’s telling us not to judge others. What others do is not our primary concern; what we do is our primary concern. Our biggest problem is not how others judge us, but how we judge others.
Caution: Judge at your own risk:-
Actually, when Jesus says, “Judge not,” he’s not really issuing a prohibition on judging others; he’s issuing a serious warning to take great care how we judge others. We know this because Jesus goes on to say,
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3–5)
It’s not wrong to lovingly help our brother remove a harmful speck from his eye. It’s wrong to self-righteously point out a speck in our brother’s eye when we ignore, as no big deal, the ridiculous log protruding from our own.
So, Jesus is placing, as it were, a neon-red-blinking sign over others that tells us, “Caution: judge at your own risk.” It is meant to give us serious pause and examine ourselves before saying anything. Our fallen nature is profoundly selfish and proud and often hypocritical, judging ourselves indulgently and others severely. We are quick to strain gnats and swallow camels (Matthew 23:24), quick to take tweezers to another’s eye when we need a forklift for our own. It is better to “judge not” than to judge like this, since we will be judged in the same way we judge others.
Jesus takes judgment very seriously. He is the righteous judge (2 Timothy 4:8), who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). He does not judge by appearances, but judges with right judgment (John 7:24). Every judgment he pronounces issues from his core loving nature (1 John 4:8).
Therefore, when we judge, and Scripture instructs Christians to judge at times (1 Corinthians 5:12), we must take great care that our judgment, like Christ’s, is always charitable.
Capturing God by Rico Tice Review by Sarah Cameron
Being a mum with 3 little kids, I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to fit in reading and reflecting on this a book. But when it arrived in the post, not only did I devour it’s 60 pages in one short sitting, I found myself rereading bits and excitedly texting them to a friend. I also felt compelled to pray for opportunities to give this to a few people who I think would benefit from reading it.
Capturing God is centred around imagining a picture of God. What would it look like to capture everything God wants to reveal about himself? I wonder how you’d answer that question. Tice has a relaxed style of writing that helps make this book accessible and engaging. He weaves sections of Luke’s Gospel together with personal stories and anecdotes. And he discusses four key characteristics that God reveals about himself in the person of Jesus Christ, and specifically through his death and resurrection. They are:
Capturing God is a great book to read if you’re a new Christian or if you’ve been a Christian for a long time. We never graduate from needing to remember what Jesus did on the cross, and why it matters. One quote I’m going to print and stick on our fridge is “God did not hang on the cross to tell us to earn life” (p37).
It’s also a great book to give to non Christians, especially someone who is keen to investigate the claims of Christianity. Tice has thought about this, and on the Good Book Company website you’ll find some extra resources to help you use this book well as an evangelistic tool. Maybe your church could give this to visitors?
Capturing God is a short and easy read, about big and important topics. Tice helps to remind us of the great truths of the gospel, that “God has offered you one picture of himself, that captures his essence. His integrity. His plan. His welcome. His justice. His forgiveness. God is offering you peace with him and power from him. He’s the God who you need, and he’s the God who is there” (p62).
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There is in each of us a dangerous temptation toward hypocrisy, to be one thing but to pretend to be another. There are many within the church who are hypocrites, people who claim to be Christians but who are, in fact, unbelievers attempting to convince others (and perhaps themselves) that they are followers of Jesus Christ. They are people who do not practice true virtue but who instead offer counterfeit versions of it. Jude compares them to clouds without water in that they seem to be full of the Spirit but are actually devoid of true goodness.
Here are five solemn warnings to those who only pretend to be godly:
Hypocrisy angers God.
God hates hypocrisy and hypocrites because hypocrisy misuses religion, taking advantage of its laws and decrees for self-advancement. The hypocrite wants religion—even the Christian faith—only for the advantages he gains from it. He fails to truly turn his heart to God and do good to God’s people. He carries Christ in his Bible, but not in his heart. He serves the devil while wearing the uniform of Christ. He will be condemned by God.
One couple’s story of hope and healing among the poor.
Tich Smith grew up in a middle class home, where he played rugby and cricket Kwa-Zulu Natal, and went on to represent South Africa in the cricket arena. His sports career derailed at the age of 35 due to alcoholism and a gambling addiction. Joan had recently lost her husband. Their lives were at rock bottom when grace showed up and inspired the to move past the racial prejudices of thme Apartheid era and launch a ministry together.
The result was Lungisisa Indlela village (LIV), the legendary residential facility that rescues children, restores lives, and raises young leaders in South Africa. This is the story of transformed lives – both theirs and the orphans – as a country begins to embrace grace and love others as Christ loves the church.
It has been five hundred years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s theses called for the reform of the church and served as the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. Its impact is still felt today. Today we learn about some of the Reformation Heroes.
The Reformation did not happen instantaneously; it was something God patiently arranged over a number of years.
As you read this book, you will learn how the Lord used some people to plant the seeds of church reform long before October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther published his ninety-five theses. Luther’s story is well-known; we trust you will find it interesting and instructive to read about him and about forty others (John Knox, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Zacharias Ursinus, Willem Teellinck, etc.) who contributed to the Reformation – some well known and others not so – most of whom are Reformation heroes.
To provide a more full picture of the many sided Reformation, chapters are also included on the Anabaptist and Counter Reformation movements. The illustrated overview for older Children and Teens concludes with a brief summary of the influence of the Reformation in different areas of life.
At some point today, someone will probably compliment or praise something you do or say. If not today, it will happen tomorrow, or sometime next week. How will you respond? How do you typically respond?
How we respond to praise from others, especially over time, reveals how highly we really think of ourselves. I’m not talking about every specific email or conversation or social-media update, but about the trends in our emails and conversations and social media. Is our default reaction — our gut heart-level response — to give God credit and glory for our gifts and achievements at work, at home, and in ministry? Or, are we more likely to privately savor that moment for ourselves, to turn the praise over and over slowly in our minds, like a piece of caramel in our mouths?
Every compliment or commendation we receive comes charged with potential for worship. When we quietly, even politely, enjoy affirmation or praise without even thinking to acknowledge God, we’re not only missing an opportunity to worship him (and to call others to worship him), but also robbing God of the glory he deserves for every gift we receive and everything we achieve.