Reviving the Lost Art of Letter Writing

Once there was a day when the nib of a pen would intersect with a piece of paper, revealing the contemplations of a thoughtful person. The end result would yield a letter that would inspire a willing recipient and breathe fresh courage into a human soul.

Less than 200 years ago, letter-writing flourished in the American colonies. Yet, the convenience of technology has all but extinguished the power of the pen. The convenience of text messages and emails have replaced the personal touch of the letter. Indeed, the art of letter writing is nearly dead. For this reason, it is time to revive the lost art of letter writing.

A Rekindled Friendship

The strained friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson is well known and documented. Thankfully, Dr. Benjamin Rush intervened and convinced Adams to renew his friendship with Jefferson. The second president of the United States responded with a letter to Jefferson. Subsequently, the two men exchanged letters back and forth until their respective deaths, which occurred on the same day – July 4, 1826. The power of pen and ink combined with some thoughtful words supercharged a friendship on the brink of collapse.

A Rekindled Art

A handful of letters have arrived in my mailbox over the past several years that left a meaningful mark and provided much-needed fuel to propel me in a Godward direction:

  • An affirming letter from my father
  • A letter of personal counsel from Dr. John Piper
  • A letter of encouragement from my grandfather, Samuel Barger
  • A letter from Pastor Wayne Pickens, who mentored me in the defining years of pastoral ministry

One letter from my 89-year-old friend, Bruce who recently went to be with the Lord sits permanently in my study:

“Knowing you is to learn, as our Lord measures it, more than just the message of Scripture. You sow also of yourself in His name. More than His word you teach by example, tireless sacrificial giving for His glory and in furtherance of His love …”

Each of the letters above are safely preserved and serve as a permanent reminder of a special time in my life.

Opening a timely and encouraging letter is like receiving oxygen at the summit of Mt. Everest after a grueling climb. It is like salve on a wound in need of healing. A letter is a welcome guest that is never turned away.

It is not too late to revive letter writing in our generation. I suggest we revive the art of letter writing for at least five reasons.

1. Personal Touch

First, a letter is personal. Taking time to compose words on a page, sealing the letter in an envelope, and dropping it in the mail involve a series of additional steps and effort but the payoff is worth it. The personal touch of a letter deeply impacts the one who receives it.

2. Powerful Memories

Second, a letter helps enshrine memories that preserve friendships, provide a permanent record of significant thoughts, and instill hope for the future. When I read a memorable letter, it helps recall significant thoughts and feelings that may have otherwise been forgotten.

3. Permanent Keepsake

Third, a letter becomes a personal and powerful memento. An email can be cataloged in Evernote or saved in some other digital format. An email can even be printed and tucked away for future reference. But an email can never replace the special quality of the written letter.

4. Portrays Selflessness

Next, a letter is an act of selflessness. It takes a certain amount of discipline, time, and creativity to craft a meaningful letter. Such a pursuit, then, involves an intentional act of kindness or selflessness as the one composing the letter must think of others before herself. One might say that letter writing is a way of fulfilling the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12, NLT).

5. Proclaims a Blessing

Finally, a letter is a way of proclaiming a blessing. At the heart of a blessing is the need for acceptance. “Genuine acceptance,” writes John Trent, “radiates from the concept of the blessing.”1 A letter has a way of unleashing a person to become all that God intends them to be. It is a way of communicating the kind of support that is empowering and life-changing. A letter has a way of inscribing an indelible seal of blessing on the soul of one of God’s image-bearers.

black and silver fountain pen

A simple letter has the power to inspire hope, instill confidence, and initiate action. A letter communicates devoted love and lifts the human spirit. A letter unshackles the hands and feet, inspires hearts and minds, and communicates love and support to the people we care about.

Reviving the lost art of letter writing begins with you. Who will you influence or encourage today with a simple letter? Who will be the recipient of your timely wisdom or counsel? Who will be inspired to take a step into the great unknown because they received a letter from you? Who will be challenged by your courageous words? Whose life will be changed forever because you took the time to craft a well-thought-out letter? Let us, then, revive the lost art of letter writing – one letter at a time.

  1. John Trent, The Blessing (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986), 28.

The End of Creation: Soli Deo Gloria

The Sum of the Matter

The first verse in the Bible is a monumental statement that reverberates with earth-shattering implications for the formation of a Christian worldview: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1, ESV). Do not miss the magnitude of this statement. Do not downplay the significance of this vital piece of revelation. And be careful to embrace what the Scriptures affirm. Ignoring the clear revelation of God’s truth, in the final analysis, proves to be a costly mistake that will have consequences that extend into eternity.

The German astronomer, Johannes Kepler, accepted biblical revelation and understood the importance of giving credit where credit is due: “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God.”1To do any less would be tantamount to theological treason. So Kepler does not minimize God’s creative activity; he magnifies it. He does not marginalize the miracle of creation; he marvels at it!

A Tragic Turn

Tragically, some thinkers have not followed Kepler’s lead. These skeptics have discounted Genesis 1:1 and cast the revelation of God into the cosmic rubbish bin. Charles Darwin, who popularized the notion of “natural selection” in his book, Origin of Species also rejected the clear account of creation. Ironically, he is buried in Westminster Abbey. Darwin may be gone but his atheistic ideology continues to dominate the thoughts of many minds, especially in the university.

Carl Sagan, who was a great champion of Darwinian evolutionary theory penned these well-known words: “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us – there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”2 He continues, “Evolution is a fact, not a theory.”3 Such banter may appeal to the itching ears of evolutionists but fails to hold up when scrutinized at the tribunal of truth.

Or consider Richard Dawkins, another defender of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. His rejection of the creation account leads him to a view of God which is blasphemous at best: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”4 The Word of God offers a stern rebuke to this kind of unbelieving thought.

A Rational Christian Response

It doesn’t take long to discern some of the catastrophic consequences of giving God’s revelation a vote of “no-confidence.” Francis Schaeffer understood the vast importance of Genesis 1:1. He understood that if we set aside the reality of creation, our worldview collapses. He writes, “Unless our epistemology is right, everything is going to be wrong.”5 The discipline of epistemology addresses the matter of knowledge. That is, it helps unpack what we know about what we know. Schaeffer continues, “The infinite-person God is there, but also he is not silent; that changes the whole world.”6Schaeffer helps us understand that God exists and he has revealed himself, that is, he has spoken. Or to use Schaeffer’s words, “He is not silent.”

The End for Which God Created the World

That fact that God not only exists but has also revealed himself is a massive reality that every person must come to terms with. This stunning truth should find us on our knees with outstretched arms. It should prompt a humble offer thanksgiving to the living God. But there’s more – Jonathan Edwards understands the motive behind God’s act of creation. He argues that the end for which God created the world was self-communication: ”Seeing that Christ created the world only to communicate his excellency and happiness, hence we learn, that all the excellency, virtue and happiness of the godly is wrought in them by Jesus Christ.”7 The implication of this Edwardian vision of creation are far-reaching and have important practical implications.

So the end of creation is uniquely focused upon God. That is, creation is Godward. Creation is God-centered. In one of his greatest literary achievements, A Dissertation Concerning the End For Which God Created the World, Jonathan Edwards demonstrates this God-centeredness: “What God says in his word, naturally leads us to suppose, that the way in which he makes himself his end in his work or works, which he does for his own sake, is in making his glory his end … God communicates himself to the understanding of the creature, in giving him the knowledge of his glory; and to the will of the creature, in giving him holiness, consisting primarily in the love of God; and in giving the creature happiness, chiefly consisting in joy in God. These are the sum of that emanation of divine fulness called in Scripture, the glory of God.8

Consider three important implications of discounting the biblical creation account:

First, discounting the reality of biblical creation leads to a skewed epistemology. And a skewed epistemology, will by definition, influence the way we think about everything else. When God is taken out of the picture or removed from the marketplace, we are left wandering in a wasteland in search of answers. “If God does not exist,” writes Dostoevsky, “then everything is permitted.” The eclipse of God leaves us helpless, hopeless, and lost in a quagmire of meaninglessness.

Second, discounting the reality of biblical creation impugns the character and trustworthiness of God. Scripture is clear about the creation account:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16–17, ESV)

When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. (Psalm 104:30, ESV)

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, (Job 38:4–6, ESV)

When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. (Psalm 104:30, ESV)

Anyone who discards what God has made plain calls God’s character into question and heaps a great insult upon the worth of his name. Anyone who dares impugn the character of God stands on the precipice of eternal judgment.

Third, discounting the reality of biblical creation fails to glorify God, which is the end of creation. Isaiah 43:7 says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Think about the tragic irony of rejecting the creation account. The creature who was created to glorify God stands in defiance and mocks the One who gave him breath.

The glory of God is the end of creation. The heavens declare his glory (Ps. 19:1). Is it any wonder that sinful men seek to distort what God has made plain in Scripture?

Soli Deo Gloria!

  1. Johannes Kepler, Cited in Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1999), 51.
  2. Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Ballantine Books Trade, 1980), 1.
  3. Ibid, 27.
  4. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006), 31.
  5. Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, Volume One, A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1982), 275-276.
  6. Ibid, 276.
  7. Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 13, The “Miscellanies,” ed. Thomas A. Schaefer, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 277.
  8. The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1, A Dissertation Concerning the End For Which God Created the World, ed. Edward Hickman (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth, 1834), 107, 119.

Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering – Timothy Keller

kellerI have yet to meet a person who enjoys pain and suffering.  Yet suffering is a part of the warp and woof of life.  It is not a part of God’s original intent for creation.  Since Adam’s first sin, pain and suffering have been an abnormal part of the cosmos.  Suffering is an unwelcome guest who bullies his way to the table and makes demands – much like a  soldier on a bloody battlefield.

Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller addresses this topic with candor and clarity.  Keller leaves no stone unturned here.  The book is organized into three sections:

Understanding the Furnace

Keller introduces the problem of pain and suffering and explores some of the philosophical challenges that Christ-followers must understand and address.

“Nothing is more important than to learn how to maintain a life of purpose in the midst of painful adversity,” writes Keller.  Yet our culture has a tendency to respond to suffering in ways that are helpful and wrongheaded.  The moralist response to suffering is to “do good.”  The fatalist’s response to suffering is to “hang in there” and “endure.”  The dualist response to suffering is “purified faithfulness.”  And the secular response to suffering is focussed on “technique.”  A combination of these erroneous responses to suffering litter the current milieu and produce a generation of confused and discouraged people.

Keller rightly alerts readers to the importance of worldviews and their relation to the subject of pain and suffering.  Ultimately, the matter of pain and suffering is a matter of faith.  “Faith,” writes Keller “is the promise of God.”  He adds, “We can be fully accepted and counted legally righteous in God’s sight through faith in Christ, solely by free grace … It means freedom from fear of the future, from any anxiety about your eternal destiny.  It is the most liberating idea possible and it ultimately enables you to face all suffering, knowing that because of the cross, God is absolutely for you and that because of the resurrection, everything will be all right in the end.”

Facing the Furnace

Part two provides readers with the theological muscle – a crucial part of the battle.  Keller unpacks the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and provides a painful but biblical rationale for the role of suffering the lives of people.

At the heart of this discussion is an important look at the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The author summarizes, “That is, in order to satisfy justice, in order to punish sin so that in love he could forgive and receive us, God had to bear the penalty for sin within himself.  God the Son took the punishment we deserved, including being cut off from the Father.  And so God took into his own self, his own heart, an infinite agony – out of love for us.”

Keller’s treatment in part two travels great distances to help resolve the problem of evil – the so-called “Achilles heal” of the Christian faith: “So while Christianity never claims to be able to offer a full explanation of all God’s reasons behind every instance of evil and suffering – it does have a final answer to it.  The answer will be given at the end of history and all who hear it and see its fulfillment will find it completely satisfying, infinitely sufficient.”

While Keller never attempts to provide a comprehensive answer to the problem of evil, his treatment of this thorny subject is some of the best in print.  He may not satisfy the disciples of David Hume, Voltaire, or Sam Harris – but he does give ample ammunition for believers who are looking for honest answers.

Walking With God in the Furnace

Parts one and two explore the philosophical and theological angles of pain and suffering.  Part three helps readers with practical application.  They are given practical tools for “walking with God in the furnace.”  The very notion of walking with God in the furnace assumes pain – pain that some are unwilling to admit.  But practical experience reveals that we live in a broken world; a world which has been torn to shreds by the consequences of sin.

Keller urges readers to walk with God in suffering: “If you go into the furnace without the gospel, it will not be possible to find God in there.  You will be sure he has done terrible wrong or you have and you will feel all alone.  Going into the fire without the gospel is the most dangerous thing anyone can do.”  So the gospel is the first and last defense of every Christ-follower; indeed it is the hope of the watching world.

Second, the author stresses the importance of weeping during seasons of adversity.  Elijah serves as an example of a man who cried out in great agony.  He was a man unafraid of weeping.  Such an approach is not only honest – it is a sign of emotional health.

Third, Keller demonstrates the need for trusting in God during days of pain and adversity.    Joseph is portrayed as an example of a man who trusted: If the story of Joseph and the whole of the Bible is true, then anything that comes into your life is something that, as painful as it is, you need in some way.”  Jesus too demonstrated trust in his Father and points believers in the identical direction.  Keller continues to alert readers to other tools that they should utilize during their dark days.

Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering is a watershed book that deserves to be read.  Christ-followers will no doubt be encouraged by this Christ-exalting book; a book which drives readers to the cross of the suffering Savior.

Highly recommended!

Saints & Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus – Nancy Guthrie (2020)

Saints & Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus by Nancy Guthrie is a fascinating book that focuses on various characters in the Bible and helps readers understand how sovereign grace transforms even the most wretched and defiled.

At the heart of the book is a plea to receive mercy and grace from God. An example of Guthrie’s writing prowess is captured in this moving sentence:

“And if you are someone who doesn’t really believe that you will receive mercy, I pray that God will open your eyes to see the kindness and generosity of your Great High Priest who loves to lavish mercy on people who don’t deserve it.”

Saints & Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus is a book that is characterized by grit, the gospel, and the glory of God. The author is to be commended for her careful historical work, exegetical precision, and practical application.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Reviving the Lost Art of Letter Writing

Once there was a day when the nib of a pen would intersect with a piece of paper, revealing the contemplations of a thoughtful person. The end result would yield a letter that would inspire a willing recipient and breathe fresh courage into a human soul.

Less than 200 years ago, letter-writing flourished in the American colonies. Yet, the convenience of technology has all but extinguished the power of the pen. The convenience of text messages and emails have replaced the personal touch of the letter. Indeed, the art of letter writing is nearly dead. For this reason, it is time to revive the lost art of letter writing.

A Rekindled Friendship

The strained friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson is well known and documented. Thankfully, Dr. Benjamin Rush intervened and convinced Adams to renew his friendship with Jefferson. The second president of the United States responded with a letter to Jefferson. Subsequently, the two men exchanged letters back and forth until their respective deaths, which occurred on the same day – July 4, 1826. The power of pen and ink combined with some thoughtful words supercharged a friendship on the brink of collapse.

A Rekindled Art

A handful of letters have arrived in my mailbox over the past several years that left a meaningful mark and provided much-needed fuel to propel me in a Godward direction:

  • An affirming letter from my father
  • A letter of personal counsel from Dr. John Piper
  • A letter of encouragement from my grandfather, Samuel Barger
  • A letter from Pastor Wayne Pickens, who mentored me in the defining years of pastoral ministry

One letter from my 89-year-old friend, Bruce who recently went to be with the Lord sits permanently in my study:

“Knowing you is to learn, as our Lord measures it, more than just the message of Scripture. You sow also of yourself in His name. More than His word you teach by example, tireless sacrificial giving for His glory and in furtherance of His love …”

Each of the letters above are safely preserved and serve as a permanent reminder of a special time in my life.

Opening a timely and encouraging letter is like receiving oxygen at the summit of Mt. Everest after a grueling climb. It is like salve on a wound in need of healing. A letter is a welcome guest that is never turned away.

It is not too late to revive letter writing in our generation. I suggest we revive the art of letter writing for at least five reasons.

1. Personal Touch

First, a letter is personal. Taking time to compose words on a page, sealing the letter in an envelope, and dropping it in the mail involve a series of additional steps and effort but the payoff is worth it. The personal touch of a letter deeply impacts the one who receives it.

2. Powerful Memories

Second, a letter helps enshrine memories that preserve friendships, provide a permanent record of significant thoughts, and instill hope for the future. When I read a memorable letter, it helps recall significant thoughts and feelings that may have otherwise been forgotten.

3. Permanent Keepsake

Third, a letter becomes a personal and powerful memento. An email can be cataloged in Evernote or saved in some other digital format. An email can even be printed and tucked away for future reference. But an email can never replace the special quality of the written letter.

4. Portrays Selflessness

Next, a letter is an act of selflessness. It takes a certain amount of discipline, time, and creativity to craft a meaningful letter. Such a pursuit, then, involves an intentional act of kindness or selflessness as the one composing the letter must think of others before herself. One might say that letter writing is a way of fulfilling the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12, NLT).

5. Proclaims a Blessing

Finally, a letter is a way of proclaiming a blessing. At the heart of a blessing is the need for acceptance. “Genuine acceptance,” writes John Trent, “radiates from the concept of the blessing.”1 A letter has a way of unleashing a person to become all that God intends them to be. It is a way of communicating the kind of support that is empowering and life-changing. A letter has a way of inscribing an indelible seal of blessing on the soul of one of God’s image-bearers.

black and silver fountain pen

A simple letter has the power to inspire hope, instill confidence, and initiate action. A letter communicates devoted love and lifts the human spirit. A letter unshackles the hands and feet, inspires hearts and minds, and communicates love and support to the people we care about.

Reviving the lost art of letter writing begins with you. Who will you influence or encourage today with a simple letter? Who will be the recipient of your timely wisdom or counsel? Who will be inspired to take a step into the great unknown because they received a letter from you? Who will be challenged by your courageous words? Whose life will be changed forever because you took the time to craft a well-thought-out letter? Let us, then, revive the lost art of letter writing – one letter at a time.

  1. John Trent, The Blessing (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986), 28.

Unified – Tim Scott & Trey Gowdy

unifiedTim Scott & Trey Gowdy, Unified  (Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2018), 220 pp.

We may live in one of the most divided times in American history. The cultural climate is rising without any hope of resolution in sight. Senator Tim Scott and Congressman, Trey Goudy recognize the problems in our land. Yet, they both have a realistic outlook, which is laced with optimism. Their book, Unified invites readers to pursue racial reconciliation and restoration, which will strengthen the fabric of our fractured nation.

Unified is a very basic book that reads like a conversation between two lawmakers. These conservative thinkers, who have become the best of friends, bring their unique conservative perspectives to the table. Their mutual love and respect for one another are apparent from the outset. These two men, who are both committed Christ-followers model what friendship can and should look like.

Senator Scott and Congressman Gowdy steer clear of politics, however. Their aim is to promote an optimistic vision of hope for the future of our nation:

“We believe that our nation can be united and transformed by conversations and friendships that lead to reconciliation and understanding. As Americans, we must uphold the ideals of freedom, equality, justice, and opportunity, even as we continue to work together to make those ideals a reality for all. We must come together, find solutions, and get to a point where we can see that our strength as a nation is rooted in all that is good in our world.”

There are no quick fixes here. The authors understand and acknowledge that legislation will not cure the illness in American culture. True and lasting change must take place in the lives of people. In what may prove to be the most important insight in the book, Senator Scott writes, “We will change the nation only by changing the condition of the human heart.” This change, undergirded by the gospel of grace has the power to change individuals and families. Then and only then, will our nation see a renewal.

Unified is a worthy read by two men of integrity; men who are striving to make America a better place. This is the first of many steps but it is a step in the right direction.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

TRUE BEAUTY – Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre (2014)

true beautyIs beauty in the eye of the beholder?  Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre tackle the sensitive topic of beauty in their book, True Beauty.  The “benchmarks for beauty” are constantly changing and most of the criteria is propaganda which caters to worldliness.  This book, on the other hand has a simple goal, namely – to point women to true beauty which is found in the pages of Scripture.

True Beauty  challenges readers to see things from God’s perspective.  Henry Scougal writes, “The worth and the excellency of a soul is to be measured the object of its love.”  Herein lies the real value and beauty of a woman – as she contemplates and worships her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: “He is the ultimate, unchanging, eternal standard of beauty.  He is the Author, Creator, and Bestower of beauty.  His beauty transcends time and culture.  It never changes and never fades.”  Therefore, true beauty is not fleeting.  True beauty is not bound by cultural expectations.  True beauty is rooted in the radiant beauty and majesty of the living God.  He is the most beautiful Being in the universe.  Therefore, all beauty must be measured according to his design.

Mahaney and Whitacre alert readers to the final standard of beauty – which is found in Jesus Christ.  Women, must therefore, develop a “taste for beauty.”  However, “sin has blinded us to the beauty of God, and when we lost sight of this beauty, we lost interest.”   So instead of delighting in God, we delight in other things – things that are in the final analysis, tantamount to idolatry.  This fascination with the mundane, with anything less than God is nothing new.  Israel struggled mightily with the sin of idolatry: “Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods?  But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.  Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:11-13, ESV).

One of the central arguments in the book is that the “gospel of Jesus Christ transforms our taste for beauty … True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God.”  And to behold the great God of the universe is to trust him implicitly.  The authors add, “Apply trust in God, with good works (1 Tim. 2:9-10) and you will not fail to become genuinely beautiful.”  Indeed, this is the touchstone as Mahaney and Whitacre weave this important reality through the remainder of the book and discuss the relationship of beauty to hearts, bodies, clothes, trust, and work.

Frankly, I cannot say enough about True Beauty.  It avoids the pitfalls of legalism and props up the pillars of a gospel-centered worldview.  It is gracious and thoughtful in tone.  It is saturated through and through with Scripture.  It affirms beauty and challenges women to pursue the highest standard of beauty – which again, is the Lord Jesus Christ.  My hope is that True Beauty receives a wide readership and strengthens and edifies a new generation of women who grow more beautiful as they pursue their Savior.

 … but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:4, ESV).

Highly recommended!

5 stars

God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel – Costi Hinn (2019

hinnCosti W. Hinn, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019), 223 pp.

The so-called prosperity gospel has been a virtual “wrecking ball,” inflicting damage on the unsuspecting, infiltrating local churches with a diabolical message of health and wealth, and inviting the wrath of a holy God. The prosperity gospel is not another version of the gospel. It is “a different gospel,” one that not only devastates and deceives – this gospel damns.

The apostle Paul addressed the church in Galatia and confronted the false gospel of his day:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9, ESV).

False gospels must be confronted, as Paul addressed the Galatians who turned to the “gospel” of the Judaizers in the first-century. Costi W. Hinn confronts the prosperity gospel in his latest book, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel. Hinn clearly defines the poisonous effects of this pernicious movement: “The prosperity gospel is here to stay and is spanning the globe, doing damage to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It is an evil that poses as a blessing but is truly a curse. It appears to be a loving extension of God’s goodness but is arguably the most hateful and abusive kind of false teaching plaguing the church today.”

Hinn describes how he grew up and was groomed to serve alongside his famous uncle, Benny Hinn and how God revealed the diabolical underpinnings of the prosperity gospel, which led to his repentance, conversion, and departure from the movement.

The author describes the origins of the prosperity gospel and the core elements with all of its trappings. He demonstrates from Scripture why prosperity teaching is abominable and warns readers to flee from its deadly influence. Hinn reveals ten reasons that the prosperity gospel is antithetical to Scripture:

  1. It distorts the biblical gospel.
  2. It insults God’s nature.
  3. It confuses the atonement.
  4. It demeans Jesus Christ.
  5. It twists Scripture.
  6. It is motivated by love for money.
  7. It produces false converts.
  8. It overcomplicates faith.
  9. It ruins Christianity’s witness.
  10. It abuses vulnerable people.

Thoughtful and discerning readers will take these principles to heart and be careful to guard the biblical gospel.

Costi Hinn does not shy away from controversy. But he also speaks the truth in love and his arguments are grounded in grace. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel is sure to raise eyebrows. Hinn’s work is a labor of love that will serve the church well. And it will surely draw some people out of this false system and lead them to the truth.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Coronavirus and Christ – John Piper

John Piper is a trusted biblical scholar and pastor who has shared his wisdom in writing for decades. I first encountered Dr. Piper as a young man. I remember eagerly devouring his book, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist when it was originally published in 1986. Since those days, John Piper has without a doubt, shaped my Christian worldview and theological framework more than any other living writer.

Standing on the Solid Rock of Christ

In his latest work, Dr. Piper provides a well-reasoned and biblical response to the current global pandemic. Coronavirus and Christ is not only saturated with Scripture; it is also a deeply personal book. Piper shares his battle with cancer and empathizes with anyone who is suffering during this season of sorrow.

The book presents the biblical vision of who God who is sovereign over everyone and everything. This God works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11). Piper adds, “This is not a season for sentimental views of God.” Therefore, the vision of God here is deeply helpful and satisfying.

The book concludes with a series of ways that the author sees God using the coronavirus in our world for his glory. Readers will be educated, refreshed, comforted, and challenged – in the midst of the horrible pandemic. They will, in the final analysis, be confronted with the majestic God who offers salvation through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ for anyone who turns from their sin and trusts his completed work on the cross.

Coronavirus and Christ is a must-read book; one that will make a huge impact around the world.

Why Should I Join a Church? – Mark Dever (2020)

Mark Dever, Why Should I Join a Church? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2020), 52 pp.

One of the most surprising hot topics that emerges among Christians concerns the matter of church membership. It is not unusual to encounter people who have strong opinions that oppose the notion of church membership. Mark Dever’s short book, Why Should I Join a Church? offers a response that is both biblical and compelling.

Dever’s book is a part of the new Crossway series, Church Questions Series that addresses topics which are on the minds of concerned Christians. The authors response is seven-fold. I offer Dever’s rationale here in order to motivate readers to pick up the book and explore his arguments further:

  1. Join a Church to Display the Gospel
  2. Join a Church Because the Bible Requires It
  3. Join a Church to Love Other Christians and Edify the Church
  4. Join a Church to Evangelize the World
  5. Join a Church to Assure Yourself
  6. Join a Church to Expose False Gospels
  7. Join a Church to Glorify God.

Each answer is supported by Scripture and sound reasoning. I urge skeptics to pick up the book and engage with the author. Such an approach to lead thoughtful and obedient readers to take the necessary steps to join a local church!

Mark Dever has a reputation for passionately promoting church membership. His heart is and ecclesiastical convictions are clearly portrayed here. Take up and read. Take Dever’s advice and join a church.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.