Monday, April 30, 2012

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson

[Please Read To The End For An Opportunity To Win A Free Copy Of The Explicit Gospel]

I have really grown in my faith in the past couple of years by listening to Matt Chandler preach. So, when I heard he was putting some of his thoughts about the gospel into a book, I was really excited to read it. With the help of Jared Wilson, Matt Chandler has written a great primer on the topic of the gospel called The Explicit Gospel. It is a book that argues against the moralistic deism of our day. As he so often does in his sermons, Chandler takes on the religiosity of our culture in an attempt to show that Jesus and the cross should in fact be changing us from the inside out. The message of Christianity is not about being a good person. It is about being changed by the only good person that has ever lived--Jesus Christ. Throughout the years of his ministry, he has found that many people assume the gospel to be present in their ministries, but that same gospel is often not explicitly taught or explained.

The book is written with two different lenses in view. He explains it as the gospel on the ground (zoomed in lens) and the gospel in the air (wide angled lens). Both views are of the true gospel, and he will argue that both views are necessary in order to stay balanced with your gospel presentations.

The Gospel On The Ground
In the first section of the book, Chandler shows the biblical narrative of God, Man, Christ, Response. God is the One to whom all glory is due. He alone knows everything at a macro and micro level. He asks the very personal question, "What if the Bible isn't about us at all? What if we aren't the story of God's revelation" (33)? He continues,
"From beginning to end, the Scriptures reveal that the foremost desire of God's heart is not our salvation but rather the glory of His own name. God's glory is what drives the universe; it is why everything exists. This world is not present, spinning, and sailing in the universe, so that you and I might be saved or lost but so that God might be glorified in his infinite perfections" (33-4).
After building up a very large picture of God, he shows how man blew it all. He explains that mankind is headed toward and deserves eternal destruction because of His sin. From here, he shows that the only hope for mankind is not found in man, but outside of man. Our only hope is that Christ came to this earth and took our shame and punishment upon that cross. But there is a response that happens to those that truly hear the gospel. Some respond in anger and hatred. But others respond in faith. He poses a few questions to see which category we might fall in:
"'How am I responding to the good news of Jesus Christ? Am I stirred up toward obedience, or is Jesus becoming cliche to me? Am I becoming inoculated to Jesus, or do I find myself being more and more stirred up to worship him, to let other people know him, to submit my life fully to him?' We have to ask these questions, because everybody responds to the gospel. We must test ourselves to see if we are int he faith (2 Cor. 13:5), because it is faith by which salvation comes. Faith is the only saving response to the gospel" (84).
This is the gospel on the ground, a vivid picture of how the cross of Jesus is involved in our everyday life.

The Gospel In The Air
While the gospel on the ground is micro, the gospel in the air is macro. He shows this by explaining the creation, fall, reconciliation, and consummation of all things. In the creation of all things, God is meant to be glorified. But then He is not glorified because of the fall of mankind. In fact, in the fall, all things are ruined, even creation. He takes some time in the chapter on the fall to show how Solomon, the richest and wisest man to ever live, did it all and couldn't find happiness. He couldn't find contentment. He couldn't find his purpose and meaning of life, that is, apart from God.

The reconciliation of mankind is not just the purpose of the cross. It is also about overthrowing evil once for all. When someone comes to faith in Jesus, it is like a rock that hits a calm lake.
"The first ripple is our personal reconciliation to God. The second ripple establishes the body of Christ, as we are reconciled to each other. The third ripple is the missional posture of the church as we mobilize to proclaim the fullness of reconciliation in the gospel" (144).
One helpful section in this section was when he explained the difference between attractional and missional ministries. The first one says "come and hear," while the second one says "go and tell." It seems as though both are necessary if one is to be balanced in the gospel.

Potential Dangers
The last section in the book seeks to explain the dangers of being on the ground or in the air too much with your gospel presentation. These insights were very valuable and helpful in my own personal ministry. He ended the book with an explanation of how he has seen moralism at work in the church. If you have heard Chandler preach at all, you have heard these stories. But they were interesting to read about once again. 

In the end, I greatly enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to many as it will help bring some balance to the church at large. There will be some who are gospel on the ground people who will not like the section about the gospel in the air. And vise versa. But I think it will be extremely helpful to read and listen to some discerning words from Chandler on the need of both.

Win A Copy Of The Book
Thanks to the good people of Crossway, they have agreed to give away a free copy of The Explicit Gospel from my blog. There are many ways to be entered into the drawing, but you must click on the PunchTab link below. The contest will run until Saturday, May 5th at Noon Eastern. Even if you do not win this book, I would highly recommend that you read it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Video Sunday: Stop Treating Jesus Like Your Plumber by John Piper

First off, this is a funny title. But more than that, I appreciated how He asks us to think about how we are receiving Jesus. Receive Him for what? Believes in Him for what?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What I Am Reading...From The Back Cover (May '12)

Ever now and then, I want to highlight a few of the books I am reading before I read them. Here is a list of the books that are "on deck" as you might say. These are the books that I hope to be reading in the next several months. This is what the publisher says about each book on the back cover.

"Is it possible that we have left Christ out of Christianity? Are the faith and practice of American Christians today more American than Christian? Have we allowed the church to be taken captive to the prevailing culture? These are the provocative questions Michael Horton addresses in this thoughtful, insightful book. His analysis should give us pause as we consider the current state of Christianity--even evangelical Christianity--in America."

"Today we commonly see images of the cross adorning churches, dangling from necklaces, and gleaming from lapels. Yet the image that is so sanitized for us today was grotesque and abhorrent to those living int he first century. It was a symbol of evil, torture, and shame. It is this realistic and horrifying view of the cross that should call us to Christian ministry and compel us to share the Good News of Christ's triumph over death. Through his exposition of 1 Corinthians, D. A. Carson presents a comprehensive view of what the death of Christ means in preaching and ministering to God's people. He confronts the issues of factionalism, servant-leadership, shaping 'world' Christians, and the source of knowledge in order to help Christian leaders learn principles for dynamic, cross-centered worship."

"Historical theologian Ken Stewart is intent on setting the record straight about Reformed theology. He identifies ten myths held by either Calvinists or non-Calvinists, or both, and shows how they are gross mischaracterizations of that theological stream. Some key myths Stewart explores include: Calvin's opinions trump ever other viewpoint in Calvinism, including on predestination; The popular acronym T.U.L.I.P is the true yardstick of Reformed believers; Calvinists take a dim view of revivals; Calvinism holds that the redeemed will be saved regardless of their conduct; Calvinism has fostered racial inequality; Calvinism tends to lead to theocracy; and Calvinism undermines the creative arts."

"Pastor and ministry leader Mark Dever is known for his efforts to build biblically faithful churches. One practical distinctive of that work is to emphasize the centrality of expositional preaching--sermons purposefully rooted in a specific Bible text. In Preach, Dever and his former student Greg Gilbert, explain how God exercises divine power through the Word, making it the basis of any relationship we have with Him. The authors give practical advice on how pastors can decide what texts to preach on, how to prepare and outline their sermons, and how to deliver and review those presentations."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lessons From How a Baseball is Made

I love baseball. I have since I was a kid. About this time every year, I find myself on the baseball field with my kids teaching them the game. One of my kids has practice just about every day of the week except for Sundays. So for the next couple of months I live there. The other day, I came across this video on how a baseball is made. I found it really interesting.



One of the statistics that was given towards the end of the video is that it takes about seven days to make one baseball. Seven days. According to many statistics, the average lifespan of a baseball in the Major Leagues is about seven pitches. Imagine being that baseball, finally making the big show. It took seven days to make you and then you sat around for a long time waiting to get into the game. And then, seven pitches later, you are done with what you were created to do. That's it. Finished. **

There is something to be learned here. At least, in my feeble mind, I was struck with how short life is. I was created to be someone and do something for God. And before I know it, it will be done. I will be finished. Because of that, I should take every opportunity I have to do what I am called to do. I should preach as much as I can. I should shepherd as many people as I can. I should take every opportunity to share the gospel with as many people as possible. I should redeem the time. As Paul writes in Ephesians 5:15-16, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."

Maximize Your Day Today!

** I understand that the baseball illustration fails on many levels. The ball went home to be played with by some kid. It was thrown around by a father and his son. It was put in a shelf to be looked at the rest of someones life. But bear with me on the illustration

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cornerstone Questions: Eternal Conscious Suffering


Over the past several months, I have tried to deal with several questions I receive at church on a regular basis. I figured that if people at church have the question, then someone else might as well. I have answered questions that have to do with what happens when you diewhy Jesus is called the Everlasting FatherThe Ten Commandments and Sabbath issues; and why there are only 66 books of the Bible. Today's question gets to the heart of heaven and hell issues. 

Second Thessalonians refers to an eternal punishment not an eternal unending punishment. Revelation refers to spirit beings that are immortal already that will be tossed into the lake of fire. It speaks of an unquenchable fire which means to me that it can't be put out, but it is possible that it can go out or end. Where does the idea of eternal conscious suffering come from?

From reading the question, it seems to me the main concern has to do with the morality of eternal conscious suffering. Let me first make a case for the biblical nature of eternal conscious suffering and then I will try to answer the objection of whether it is fair or not.

Is Eternal Conscious Suffering Biblical?
I would make the argument that the eternality of conscious suffering in hell is as biblical as the glory of eternal life in heaven. They are talked about in similar passages with similar terminology. To say that one is temporal and one is eternal would be to do hermeneutical gymnastics inside a particular verse. Here is a list of several passages of Scripture that speak to the eternal nature of both of these, but primarily I am listing those that speak to the eternal conscious suffering of unbelievers.
  • "Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33:14)
  • ". . . the chaff will burn with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12)
  • ". . . to be thrown into the eternal fire." (Matthew 18:8)
  • "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" (Matthew 25:41)
  • "these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:46)
  • "They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might." (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
  • ". . . a punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 7)
  • "...the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)
  • "And if anyone name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:15)

I do not know how to get around the textual evidence of eternal conscious suffering of those that do not know Jesus Christ. It is not one of those things that is fun to talk about, but it is in the Bible. Eternal means eternal. It means unending. It does not do justice to the text to say that something is eternal but not unending. Would we say that God is Eternal? Does that mean that He could come to an end? Of course not. It means that He is and will be forever. I do not know how else to interpret that word. That is why Revelation 20:10 says "forever and ever." That means there will never be an end to it.

Is Eternal Conscious Suffering Fair?
This seems to be the bigger issue. Is it fair? Should after spending a few million years of suffering for their sins a person be extinguished or the punishment be lightened, or even then given another chance to accept Jesus Christ? Throughout the years, this has raised the most controversial question about judgement. As David Clotfelter asks in his book, Sinners in the Hands of a Good God"How can it be just for God to requite the finite number of sins we can commit in this life with a punishment that is never ending?" (88-9). He goes on to give what he feels is the best answer:
"Because God is a Being of infinite worth, to whom we owe an infinite obligation, sin against God is an infinite evil requiring an infinite punishment. And since the punishments of hell cannot be infinite in intensity, as that would violate the principle that the lost are punished according to their deeds, it must be the case that hell is infinite in duration" (92).
Writing about the morality of eternal punishment, Clotfelter continues . . .
"If there is any place in theology where our willingness to submit to the Bible is tested to the utmost, it is surely here. If the Bible did not teach everlasting punishment, then there would be no need for us to tolerate that doctrine. If the Bible does teach it, as I have argued that it does, then we have no right to reject it, no matter how much anguish it may cause us and no matter how great a change it may demand in our living and thinking. Our sense of its moral intolerability may well move us to look for alternatives to the doctrine of eternal punishment, but if in the end we find that doctrine in the Bible, we have no choice but to learn to tolerate it. A failure to do so might well result in a failure to grow into the people God wants us to be" (95).
I would highly recommend his book for further help on this subject. But I warn you, it is not for the light of heart. It is theologically rich. But that wealth will not come without some work on your part. I hope this has helped answer this question or at least moved someone to find the resources needed to begin thinking about these things.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To Be Perfectly Honest by Phil Callaway

Would you be willing to take a year long commitment to not lie in any situation? Would you be willing to tell the truth in every situation? Phil Callaway did. In his new book, To Be Perfectly Honest, Callaway shares the insights he learned on his year long journey of truth telling.

Well, sort of. He shared many of his thoughts. I could tell from the very beginning of the book that Callaway is a well established writer and humorist. And I emphasize humorist. It did seem as though at every angle of this book, he was looking for the joke to tell. One of the recurring portions in the book was his interaction with a friend at church that told jokes. He had to tell his friend that his jokes were not that funny, and that he could not give him a courtesy laugh anymore because of his commitment to tell the truth. At many parts of this book, I felt like I should laugh, but it would have been a courtesy laugh. There were some funny things that happened to him, but there were other parts that felt like his friend telling dumb jokes.

That doesn't mean I did not enjoy the book. I did. But I think what I enjoyed more than the book was the concept of the book. What would life be like if everyone told the truth. Always. Not because of some commitment, but because they love Jesus, who is the Truth. Maybe a book like this is cute and funny because we are much too easily deceived at thinking that little lies are okay. Maybe this book can sell because we have become numb to the reality that a Christian should not lie. Ever. Not because of the trouble it might get them in, but because it offends a truthful God.

I also found myself wondering if there is a difference between living a life that tells the truth and living a life of truth, which I think is a subtle difference. The subtitle of the book is "One Man's Year of Almost Living Truthfully Could Change Your Life. No Lie." It does not say that a man telling the truth, but living truthfully. What would life be like if we are just completely honest with everyone at all times? Honest with our hurts. Honest with our struggles. Honest with our successes. Honest with our walk with Jesus. Honest with our time in God's Word. Honest with our doubts. What would that look like in the church?

I am thankful to have read this book. It has made me think. Even though there were parts of it that I really didn't care for, it has made me evaluate some things in my life. You might wonder how a commitment like this would change someone? Here are his final thoughts:
"For starters, I'm more honest in prayer. This thing about trying to impress God was laughable. I've also learned how far short I land trying to right things on my own. I speak the truth more speedily now, less concerned with what people say about me when I'm out of earshot. I've learned to be kinder to others, having never walked around in their slippers. And I've learned to appreciate the words of the great American theologian Tim McGraw: 'Live like you were dying' . . . Someone asked me the other day if I'll ever tell a lie again. I said, 'Probably... Wait, yes, I'm sure I will .' I know to much about my inner workings to deceive myself into thinking that I have this problem licked. but I don't think I can lie again without a sense of sorrow and a longing for the joy and peace of an honest life" (188-9).
I received a free copy of To Be Perfectly Honest by Phil Callaway from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Proverbs by Pastor Mark Driscoll

I have been meeting with our college students every Monday night for the past several months. We get together for a little prayer and Bible study at the home of two of our young adults (well, not their home, but their parents home). Because of my time schedule, I am not able to come up with something new each week. So, I have been using different curriculum with them. We went through Matt Chandler's series on Philippians. We went through a short series by John Piper called Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. And now we are watching and talking about a series on the book of Proverbs by Pastor Mark Driscoll.

It is an 8-week teaching series that he did for a midweek service at their church in 2009. It is theological, but very practical. I know that Driscoll can be very controversial on some levels, but this series has been very helpful so far. He is very insightful on life, wisdom, and the book of Proverbs. We are currently only through four weeks of the series, but all of the college students are learning from this study. The study questions that he gives at the end of every session creates for some helpful discussion. Here are the topics that he deals with in this study: Fear, Heart, Wisdom, Planning, Friendship, Wealth, Addictions, and Marriage. If you are looking for a short series to watch and listen to on the book of Proverbs, I would recommend this so far. It is free. You can watch them all on-line at the Mars Hill website

Proverbs on Planning
Let me share some of the insights that I took from the lesson we watched last night on planning as it was extremely helpful. He began by giving several principles that are taught in Proverbs in regards to planning. He said that we are commanded not to plan evil (5:29; 6:16-18; 24:8). But we are to plan our lives through prayer (16:3). We should plan with counsel (15:22; 20:18). He made the point that if we are making any larger decisions in our lives, we should get away and pray about it, but that we should also seek help in making that decision. But then he said the plan has to be worked out. We cannot just let the plan for our life sit on paper (21:5). Lastly, he made the point that sometimes the plan has to be altered (16:9; 19:21). That is probably the hardest for me. 

The bulk of the message was practical steps on how to become more organized in your life. If you are disorganized, that might be a great one for you to watch. After all, we are all stewards of not only our money, but also our time. Planning can help you become a better steward of your time. One of the questions he ended with is very convicting and helpful for all of us to answer: What energy wasters do you need to get rid of? That might be a good question to give some thought to today. What robs your time, preventing you from getting done what you desire to get done?

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Morning After: The Building of Solomon's House (1 Kings 7:1-12)


My wife and I have lived in nine different homes or apartments in almost fourteen years of marriage. And we lived in one place for almost six years. Do the math, that is a lot of moving. Every time we would get ready to move, we would have some fun day dreaming conversations about what we wanted in the next place we lived. Thinking of moving into a new home certainly can be exciting. One thing is for sure, it is more fun than reading about someone else building a home, especially when we know that we will never see their house. 

But that is what we have in 1 Kings 7:1-12. King Solomon is building his house. Actually, it is a royal compound. And because God chose to record this for us in His holy Word, there is a purpose for our life. It has been given for our spiritual growth.

The Details of the Buildings
Looking at the details may seem to be exhausting and irrelevant to our lives. But they are important. Solomon actually built several buildings as part of his royal complex.

The House of the Forest of Lebanon (vs. 2-5) -- This building received it's name from the large pillars of cedar wood and the beams made of cedar. It would have looked like a forest as you stood in it.

The Hall of Pillars (vs. 6) -- Most people say that this building was simply a waiting room.

The Hall of Justice (vs. 7) -- This is obviously where Solomon had his throne and executed justice. It functioned as the supreme court of Israel.

Solomon's House (vs. 8a) -- We are told very little details about his own house other than it was built with similar materials as the others (the finest stones and wood) and that it was in a different courtyard. It was not connected to the other buildings.

House for Pharaoh's Daughter (vs. 8b) -- He built her a similar home as his own.

The Context of the Buildings
The significance of this passage is best seen in light of the context. The previous 38 verses were about the building of the temple. The next 38 verses are about furnishings in the temple. Then why did the author of 1 Kings insert a short section about Solomon building his house in the middle of those sections?

There are some who say that the author was trying to point out the greed and sinfulness of Solomon. They say that chapter six ends with these words: "He was seven years in building it." Then the next words are literally, "But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years." The point many try to make is that Solomon spends almost twice as much time building his own house as he did a house for God. That argument fails for me on many levels, but mostly because in chapter 8, God is pleased with the temple. 

If anything, the placement of this section of Scripture between these two sections on the temple teach the exact opposite. I believe the placement of the short description of Solomon's house between two large detailed sections on the temple is all meant to teach us one main thought:

The Worship Of God Should Always Be Our Priority!

When a write gives a fraction of the time to buildings that are significantly larger and took two times as long to build, he is trying to say something, not about the large buildings, but about the smaller one. In this case, he is trying to make a point about the importance and significance of the worship of God as the priority for God's people and even King Solomon. To help with this, there were three significant principles that I gave to help prioritize the worship of God's people.

1. We Only Worship God Through Jesus Christ. Solomon and the people of Israel had to go to the temple to worship God. We can have access at any moment, but only through Jesus Christ.

2. We Should Care More For The Things Of God & His People Than Our Home (Or Other Things). We should never get to the place where we think our homes or anything we own is more important than people or the worship of God as we minister to people. 

3. We Can Worship God By Using Our Home. When our homes become less about us and more about a tool to minister to people, we are worshipping God.

If you want to listen to this entire message, you can find the audio HERE and you can find my teaching notes HERE.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Video Sunday: Why 'Accepting Jesus in Your Heart' is Superstitious & Unbiblical

This video will certainly gain some reaction. And maybe some over-reaction. David Platt doesn't mix words when he says that the modern day gospel has been reduced to asking people to pray a prayer that isn't even in the Bible.

Friday, April 20, 2012

T4G 2012 - Final Thoughts

I have been home from T4G for a few days now. It was a great conference, maybe the best I have ever attended. On the drive home, I made a conscious decision to wait a few days before writing about my final thoughts on the conference. I wanted the messages I heard to sink in to my soul. I wanted to stew on them for a while. But I do want to continue to take action. I want them to impact my heart and soul, but also my life. I want them to change me. I want to be like the wise man who built his life upon the rock. I want to be the doer of the word, not the hearer only.

In my book, I wrote that it is good to think of one thing to take away from every message. It becomes easy to be overwhelmed at preaching when you think you have to apply everything in the message. Just try to apply one thing. That is even more true when you think about hearing nine 1-hour long messages in three days. But after spending some time reflecting on each sermon, here are the things I wanted to take away from each one (I have included the links to the video's of each sermon, please listen to them).

C. J. Mahaney's Message -- I memorized 2 Corinthians 4 a few years ago, but I want to reaffirm it to my memory. It is so easy for me to lose heart in my ministry from time to time. But I think that having this passage directly available in my memory will help me when those times come again.

Albert Mohler's Message -- I want to work harder in every message to articulate the gospel in clear words. That will start this Sunday.

Mark Dever's Message -- I want to be a better shepherd of the people at CBC. I want to never be afraid to call for those who are members (and everyone else) to live holy lives. If you claim the name of Jesus, there should be a difference in your life from those that are unbelievers.

Thabiti Anyabwile's Message -- Preach to open eyes, not just to transfer information. That means working harder on the application and illustrating the truths of God in my messages. Yet, as I do that, trust the gospel to change people not my gimmicks.

Kevin DeYoung's Message -- I need to work smarter, not longer hours. When I am in the office studying, I need to avoid time wasting things on the Internet.

David Platt's Message -- This is the one that impacted me in so many different ways, but let me just give one thing I have done in response to it. I have signed up for Operation World's 60 Day Prayer Experience that I hope will help me pray for the nations and have a heart for the nations.

Ligon Duncan's Message -- This one was more of a mindset. I need to be cautious with my heart, knowing that after successful ministry comes my greatest temptations. That means to stay busy on Mondays after Sundays.

Matt Chandler's Message -- Live my life with a view towards the eternal city. This should affect everything from my finances to how I converse with people.

John Piper's Message -- Reflect on why I am not more thankful, and then repent for my unthankfulness.

Those are just some of the things that impacted me at T4G 2012. I am glad I was there and hope to look back on those three days as life transforming.

How about you? Did you attend? Have you listened to the messages? How have they impacted you?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Praying For The Nations

One of the applications I have made from David Platt's sermon at T4G is to enlist to pray for the nations of the world. In that sermon, he mentioned Operation World. I remember reading through this book when I was at Moody Bible Institute for a world missions class. I do not have the book any longer. I might have sold it or lost it at some point, which is interesting, because I do not lose or sell books. But for some reason, I was not driven to take the prayer for the evangelization of the world seriously.

But I am now. Yesterday I went to the Operation World website and signed up for a 60 Day Prayer Experience. Every day they will send out an email with some basic information about some country of the world that will spur you on to pray for that nation. This morning, I received the first one. I was blown away. This is what I received this morning:
_____________________________________________________

60 Day Prayer Challenge Day 1 - Today's prayer country is Afghanistan:
    Population: 29,117,489
    Largest religion: Muslim
    Percent Evangelical: 0.0%
For prayer information on Afghanistan, visit the Operation World website and remember to:
    Pray for the specific country needs: The upheaval of the last 30 years reduced the country to ruin and... READ MORE
    Click on the ‘unreached peoples’ of that country and pray
    Watch and engage with the prayer video
    Find even more fuel for prayer for Afghanistan on page 89 of the Operation World Book, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or eBook

As Mark 11:17 says: ‘Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? Let’s continue to make the global house of God a house of prayer for all nations.

_____________________________________________________

All of the blue letters are links in the email that can take you to more information about the country of Afghanistan (they are disabled in this blog post). I was blown away that there is literally 0% Evangelicals. This is a barren wasteland for the gospel. We need to pray for the gospel to go into this country.

Let me encourage you to take the 60 Day Prayer Experience as well. I have yet to purchase the book once again, but I think it is coming very soon as well. Check out this short video they have put together that will hopefully motivate you to pray for the nations.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You Are Not Too Old

Last night, Jamie Moyer became the oldest man to win a Major League Baseball game. At the very young age of 49 years old, he pitched seven innings giving up six hits and 2 runs, for the Colorado Rockies to beat the San Diego Padres 5-3. I remember watching Moyer as a kid when he pitched for the Chicago Cubs from 1986 through 1989. Think of that. He has pitched in the majors for 26 years. And he is proving that he is not too old.

It made me think this morning, will there ever be a time in your life that you are too old to do something for Jesus? Initially, I want my answer to be "no", but I know that is not true. There is the chance that at some point in your life, you will be bed-ridden and be experiencing what Solomon describes in Ecclesiastes 12:1-8. But if you are reading this blog, you are not. You are not too old. 

You are not too old to serve at your church.
You are not too old to share the gospel with your friend.
You are not too old to sing in worship to your Savior.
You are not too old to go on a missions trip. 
You are not too old to read your Bible.
You are not too old to encourage someone in their faith.
You are not too old to serve in the nursery.
You are not too old to cook a meal for someone.
You are not too old to be generous with your money.

At some point, Moyer is going to be too old to pitch a Major League baseball game. At some point, you will be (or already have become) too old to run a six-minute mile. But you are not too old to live the Christian life. 

Question: What Are You Too Old To Do In Your Christian Life?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Books from T4G

This morning is my first time back in the office since going to T4G. That means it is time to go through all the books I brought back with me from the conference. I thought I would share what I received. There are two lists: those that I received for free and those I purchased at the conference. I was surprised that there were only a few books that are duplicates of what I already have read and have even blogged about. There will be some that will go on the shelves, but there will be some that I hope to read. Maybe there will be some book reviews coming down road. Well, here they are.

Free Books at T4G:


Purchased Books at T4G:

Which one of these books seems most interesting to you? Who knows, maybe your responses will help me prioritize which books I read first.

Friday, April 13, 2012

T4G 2012 - Day 3

Today I am driving back home to Ohio. The conference was better than I expected it to be. In my opening remarks, I mentioned that I was somewhat disappointed in the T4G that I attended in 2008. Not this one. It well exceeded my expectation and I cannot wait until April 8-10, 2014. I might even try to bring my wife to this conference at that time. The last day of the conference was just as good as the other days. Each speaker faithfully and boldly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications upon my life. 

General Session 07 - The Underestimate God: God's Ruthless, Compassionate Grace in the Pursuit of His Own Glory and His Ministers' Joy by Ligon Duncan
Ligon Duncan painted the picture of Elijah from 1 Kings 19 as he struggled with discouragement. This was really a helpful follow up from C. J. Mahaney's message the other night on not losing heart. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah had that glorious moment of God defeating the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel. But then, just one chapter later, we see Elijah running for his life from Ahab and Jezebel. And he was depressed. He wanted to die. 

I was moved by Duncan when he said that many men begin ministry thinking if they are faithful to God, the crushing darkness of life will not be part of their experience. And then it comes and they are depressed. They are broken. They are hurt. They are confused. And in their disappointments, faithful  ministers can forget that God is God and that God is good.

There were three main thoughts in his sermon. First, he pointed out that even people who believe that God is sovereign can fail to believe in God. Elijah personally saw the sovereignty of God firsthand in chapter 18, but then ran from the threats of an evil woman in chapter 19. He forgot God. Second, he made the point that even those that fight against idolatry can fall into it. Elijah's desire was for the restoration of the Northern Israel. He wanted God to do something in their midst. He wanted God to be exalted, but he also wanted the way God would do it. Third, he shared that even when it looks like God is being hard on his servants, you can be assured that his provisions are good and kind. Elijah wanted to see God's glory established, but God had other plans. Fast forward to Luke 9 and we are told that at the transfiguration, the glory of Jesus is visibly seen by the few disciples, but also by Moses and . . .  Elijah. He saw it, just not in his timing.

One of the major things I learned from this is how easy it can be to go from highs to lows in my walk with Christ and my ministry. I also learned that I need to trust God for His timing in all things. He has a plan that I need to trust.

General Session 08 - The Fulfillment of the Gospel by Matt Chandler
This is probably the session that I was looking forward to the most. I have listened and grown from the preaching ministry of Matt Chandler in the past couple years. God has and is using him in amazing ways for His Kingdom. His message was one of hope. Hope that is found in the culmination of gospel ministry, the new heavens and the new earth. He began his message by talking about the events that happened several years ago. In fact, two years ago, he stood on that stage and had men pray for him as he was beginning 18 months of high dose chemo after having brain surgery. The doctors at that time had said he might live two more years. He said that he found it very fitting to stand here two years later preaching about hope from Revelation 21.

He spent some time walking through how glorious it is going to be when it is all said and done for the Christian. But I think what impacted me the most is when he said that the view of tomorrow (heaven) should be what drives us today. He warned that it should not be in the sense of "I want to die and get there." But it should be in the sense of "I want to be as faithful as I can be and then get there in God's timing." Whether that would be next week, month, year, or 30 years from now.

I do not doubt heaven. I do not doubt my calling of being there. I do not doubt how great it is going to be. But I often wonder if I live my life in view that it is so much greater than anything here. So much greater than popularity. So much greater than the Cubs winning the World Series (he didn't say that, I am just hoping). So much greater than anything this world has to offer. I was convicted that maybe the gospel in my life is too shallow. Maybe I am thinking about the temporal results of the gospel instead of the eternal ramifications. I wondered as he said, "You have to get over you" whether I am over myself. Something to think about and probably repent about.

General Session 09 - Glory, Majesty, Dominion, and Authority Keep Us Safe for Everlasting Joy: Reflections on God's Keeping Power through 32 Years of Ministry by John Piper
These titles are starting to sound like some old time puritans. But I guess the speakers have the right to title their sermons anything they want. And certainly, John Piper has the right to any title he wants. His sermon last night was from the end of the book of Jude:
"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (vs. 24-25)
His sermon was broken down into two parts. The first part was how he is amazed that he is still a Christian. That was something to hear him say. He began by reading an entry from his journal about 30 years ago where he was contemplating quitting. It was scary, yet very raw and real. He said that if everything was decisively up to him, he would have quit long ago. He would have failed long ago.

The second half of the sermon was the analysis of how that happens. How are we kept? How does God keep us? Piper went back to verse 1 of Jude where it says, "to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ." Those that are called are kept. Towards the end of the sermon, he asked one very pointed question:

What makes you think you will wake up a Christian tomorrow?

Think about that one. Is the hope in you? Is the hope that you are smart enough? Is the hope that you are strong enough? The only answer has to be found, from the lips of Jude, that God keeps those He calls. I love the ministry of John Piper. This message was deep and profound. It is one of those that I will have to listen to again and again.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

T4G 2012 - Day 2

In many conferences that I have attended in the past, the second day is the let-down day. Things start well and end well, but the middle usually seems to be the time that is lacking. But not here. Not yesterday. Not at T4G. The day was like most days with general preaching sessions, panel discussions, and more time spent in the bookstore. Let me simply share about the general preaching sessions. 

General Session 04 - Will Your Gospel Transform a Terrorist by Thabiti Anyabwile.
I do not know why, but was not looking forward to the session by Thabiti like I was by some of the other main speakers. But the guy is a rock-solid Bible expositor. His main point, taken from First Timothy 1:12-17, was that the greatest hindrance to the gospel is the lack of confidence by Christians in the gospel. Do we really think that the gospel could come in and change the hardest of individuals? Do we really believe that it could change the terrorist, the one that we shrink away from in fear? Do we really believe that the gospel can change them?

By looking at Paul's conversion, he adequately showed the power of the gospel. Paul was a murderer. That was his profession. His conversion shows us that the gospel can and does reach the worst of sinners. Towards the end of his message, he gave 9 Marks of a Gospel-Confident Ministry. If we had confidence in the gospel, we would . . .
  1. Position ourselves around the worst of sinners, looking for gospel opportunities.
  2. Share the gospel slowly and clearly with those sinners.
  3. Redirect our fears from man to God.
  4. Preach the gospel in every sermon we preach (obviously, he was primarily directing his message to preachers).
  5. Be careful with new converts and evangelism methods. His point is that just because God saves someone some particular way, it doesn't mean that's the only way God saves them (method, not message)
  6. Study the gospel in deeper and more varied ways.
  7. Preach to open eyes, not just to transfer information.
  8. Ask ourselves, 'Is my confidence in myself or in the power of the gospel itself?' This means are we trusting in delivery and stories or in the message itself.
  9. Faithfully rely upon the power of God to change people.
In the end, I was deeply moved and helped by this message. It once again reaffirmed to me the power of the gospel and challenged me to trust it. Each day. Each sermon. Each encounter. Trust in the power of the gospel.

General Session 05 - Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort by Kevin DeYoung
I have read several books by DeYoung and have enjoyed his intellectual, yet simplistic take on many deep issues. That is I was looking forward to hearing him speak for the first time. His message started in First Corinthians 15:10, which says, "But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that was in me." His point in this message was that the grace of God should move us to more effort (or work) for the Christian, not less.

His message to the pastors was to work harder. Not necessarily more, but smarter and harder. We shouldn't be scared to call our people to personal holiness. And we shouldn't rely upon the grace of God as some sort of excuse for not working toward our own holiness. He emphasized that a pursuit of holiness does not happen without trusting and trusting does not happen without trying.

General Session 06 - Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions by David Platt
There have only been a few times in my life when I was moved by a sermon like I was last night by the words of God through the voice of David Platt. After the message, it was like a bomb had been dropped in the arena. It was powerful. When Albert Mohler introduced Platt, he said that the puritans would say that he had unction. Spirit-empowered anointing. And that is what happened. Thousands of men and women moved by the Spirit at one time through his message.

His message was, well, radical. Not like his book. But he unpacked Revelation 5 and said that it is our view of God's sovereignty that will fuel death-defying pursuits of global missions in our churches. He began by giving a few preliminary comments. First, local ministry and missions is totally necessary. Second, global missions has been tragically neglected by the church. The fact is there are over two billion unreached people; 6,000 unreached people groups. Third, pastors have the privilege and responsibility to lead the way in global missions. As he unpacked Revelation 5, he began by sharing Four Theological Truths.



After that, he ended with Four Implications of These Truths. First, as pastors, we should lead our churches to pray confidently for the spread of global missions. I feel as though I have done a poor job at this. I have not led my family or our church in helpful ways. I have some ideas of how to remedy this. Second, as pastors, we should lead our churches to give sacrificially to the spread of the gospel to global missions. He emphasized that $.05 of every $100 of a Christian is given to global missions. That's not enough. Third, as pastors, we should lead our people to go intentionally to unreached people. Fourth, as pastors, we should lead our people to die willingly for the spread of the gospel for the sake of all people. They are unreached for a reason. It is dangerous and certainly will result in suffering.

Please listen to this message! I am also sure that within a day or so, the video might be up on the t4g website. Maybe watch it when it is posted. I can't emphasize enough how this was one of those sermons that the Spirit of God is going to use for the spread of His gospel throughout the world. 

Conclusion
One of the main things I took away from today is that I am encouraged by the future of the Christian church. I trust that God is going to do what God wants to have done. But he has raised up some godly, young, gospel-powered men who are going to lead our generation. I am so thankful for that. But I also know that they could be gone in a minute. I was overwhelmed at God's sovereignty and His own love for the gospel in all things. I can't wait for today as we have Ligon Duncan, John Piper and Matt Chandler left to speak. May God be glorified in my life today as I listen and learn God's truths from their lips. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

T4G 2012 - Day 1

One of the first things that is radically different from the last time I attended T4G ('08) is that there are so many more people. I do not know exactly how many people that are here, but I have heard between 7,000 to 8,500 men and women. That is a lot of people. But even with that many people, I was able to run into many dear friends in ministry. Truth be told, that is why a pastor comes to conferences like this. To be encouraged by other men they know in ministry. Friendship is so extremely important and helpful to my life.

As at most conferences, I enjoyed receiving many free books. Many of them I have already read, which means I will probably be giving some away when I get back home. Anyone want some good resources? Well, I also spent some time in the really large bookstore and bought a few other resources that were significantly discounted. I really love books. But onto the main part of the day . . . the teaching sessions. Each day features several preaching events as well as some panel discussions. 

General Session 01 - When A Pastor Loses Heart by C. J. Mahaney
The first sermon really spoke to my heart. C. J. Mahaney spoke from Second Corinthians 4 on the reality of the pastor losing heart. He expressed that a pastor can have a fruitful ministry, but still not be joyful. It is a real temptation for all pastors. He pleaded with us, as only C. J. can do, to take advantage of the conference as a gift from God and not waste this opportunity to be encouraged.

The heart of his encouragement from that passage came when he said that the gospel message is what should keep the pastor going. It is God that will give sight to the blind. He emphasized that our calling is to proclaim Jesus and trust that God will remove their scales. But he also said that the context of any christian ministry is that it will be difficult. There will be suffering. There will be persecutions. Because we live in a fallen world, there will be depression and pastors will be struck down. He encouraged us that behind every faithful and fruitful church, there will be a dying pastor.

How can that be encouraging? Well, it is to me only when I maintain the eternal perspective that Paul talks about in vs. 16-18. There is no comparison between any momentary afflictions that might be in our life compared to the eternal glory that awaits us. I had to really ask myself, "Do I really believe that?"

General Session 02 - The Power of the Articulated Gospel by Albert Mohler
The second sermon was by Albert Mohler from Romans 10 on the importance and power of articulating the gospel of Jesus Christ. His main emphasis is that the only way anyone believes in Jesus and is saved is by preaching, speaking, articulating the gospel with words. Proximity is not enough. It is not enough just to do good deeds for others. It is not enough just to be around people and hoping the gospel will rub off from us. It must be spoken. How do we know who the elect are from Romans 9? They believe, confess, and are saved in Romans 10. Someone at some point spoke words of the gospel to them. He emphasized that God is a speaking God and since we are created in His image, we speak.

This was helpful to me in many ways. It reaffirmed to me my calling to preaching. It reaffirmed my calling to opening my mouth to share Jesus with others. He even said that it takes words to be rejected. I am starting an evangelism class on Sunday morning and I was encouraged once again at the importance of speaking words for people to accept or reject. Christian, are we willing to die for words? At the end, he asked the question: How did the gospel come to you? How was it that you came to believe? Some how or some way, someone spoke words or you read words on the glorious nature of Jesus and His salvation. We should do the same.

General Session 03 - False Conversions, The Suicide of the Local Church by Mark Dever
As a pastor, this was my favorite session. And the scariest session. He began the sermon by asking a couple of questions: "Could it be that many of our hearers every Sunday are not saved?" "Could it be that many of our members are not saved?" He walked through God's plan throughout the ages is to save a people for His own glory. God does things for the glory of His name. That message is not a friendly one, so much in fact, that he reiterated that unbelievers hate it while believers love it. True believers love that God does things for the glory of His name. And the church, God's people, are composed of people who are born again, repentant, and growing Christians.

He made some fairly profound statements in this sermon. One of them was that we work against God when we build churches that camouflage the glory of God's name by having people who are indistinguishable from the world. Ouch. That hurts. We avoid false conversions when we continually call people to a life being converted. 

His solution? He says the pastor must "keep a close watch on yourself  and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:16). He encouraged pastors to consistently make it a habit of preaching on five topics: God's judgement, it is a personal judgement, our only hope is in Christ, we never see the fullness of salvation in this life, and we can easily be deceived.

A church that doesn't emphasize the importance of true saving fruit in the life of people who claim to have received Jesus can be in danger. He encouraged each pastor to think of the future generations when he said, "False converts hire false teachers." The longevity of any ministry will be seen as pastors hold out a high standard of salvation as they bring people into the membership of their church.

Yesterday was a great day and I look forward to a really long day today. There were so many other things that happened yesterday, but I do not have time to share about them at this point. I would still appreciate your prayers as I try to drink from a fire hose today. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2012 Together for the Gospel Conference (T4G)

Together for the Gospel began with the friendship of four church leaders. They differed on many points of theology, but had one thing in common--the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 2006, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, & C. J. Mahaney began an every two year conference for church leaders, encouraging them to rally around that same gospel message. Next week, I am excited to be able to attend their fourth conference. 

I am probably more excited for this one than I was back in 2008 when I had the opportunity to attend. That mostly has to do with the line-up of speakers and the topic that is to be covered. This is a line-up of the Who's Who of gospel ministry. Besides the four that started the conference, the speakers will include: Matt Chandler, David Platt, Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, and Thabiti Anyabwile. I look forward to each of them for different reasons. I am so looking forward to topic of each messages.

The theme for this conference is really interesting. They are calling it: The Underestimated Gospel. Here is the description of the event:
Power. Power to change. Power to start anew. Everyone is looking for power. Political campaigns point to the power of people. Advertising agencies exploit the power of appetite. But Churches have something different and better. Something seemingly implausible. Something that comes in a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Churches have the Gospel. Though we live in the world, we must not wage war as the world does, or fight with its weapons. On the contrary, we have divine power in the gospel to demolish strongholds. To redeem sinners. To create life. To transform and remake the universe. Talk about power. Witness the underestimated Gospel.
My Hope:
When I attended the conference in 2008, I was sort of disappointed. There were some speakers that really challenged me (John Piper & John MacArthur). But the bulk of them were so theological, almost as if they were attempting to write their chapter in their book that would follow the conference (which I do not think was ever published). If I was honest, I was disappointed that many people walked away confused with what was said at that conference. Not because they disagreed with it, but they simply didn't understand it. 

But here is my hope. I hope they have learned. I hope they bring the gospel and the underestimatedness of the gospel down to the level of the average church leader. It is my hope that they seek to preach in a way that I am driven, not to just think, but to change my ways. I hope that I am overwhelmed in a new and fresh way to the power of the gospel that I have underestimated in the previous years.

My Blogging Plan:
Yesterday, I drove down to Louisville (about a six hour drive) and met up with a few friends. It is my plan to share on the blog the next couple of days what I am learning at the conference. The conference starts today, which means my first post will be tomorrow about what I am learning today. Then on Thursday, I will share what I learned on Wednesday. On Friday, I will share the blessings of Thursday. I think you get it.

I would certainly appreciate your prayer as I take time to refresh and learn what God would want me to learn. I was reminded last week of Robert Murray M'Cheyne's famous quote: "My people's greatest need is my personal holiness." It is my prayer this week that God teaches and instructs and molds me more into His image. It is my prayer that my interaction with some ministry friends would be helpful and beneficial to my soul. It is my prayer that I come back rejoicing about what God is doing in my life and through His gospel around the world. And it is my prayer that I come back with lots of new books to read. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Looking Forward To Getting Married by Rick Goertzen

From time to time, I like to ask other people to write a blog post for me. It is always an interesting adventure. What will they write? What sort of agenda do they have? Will I even agree with what they are saying? 

Well, today, I am very excited to have my previous pastor, Rick Goertzen, write a short post on marriage. Well, sort of on marriage. Not about his marriage with his wonderful wife, but about the church's marriage with Jesus. You can find a whole lot of information about Rick and Grace Bible Church at their website. In particular, you will want to check out his video blog that he posts from time to time. I hope you are blessed.
________________________________________________________________

Just recently, I celebrated with my wife 28 years of marriage. We celebrate together, but quite differently. I came home to a note on the bathroom mirror which listed 28 reasons why she would say yes again. She presented me with a gift which I had mentioned last summer and completely forgotten about. She is incredible at loving me. I, on the other hand, I am, well . . . romantically challenged. I love my wife intensely. In fact, when I try to tell her, I just tear up and nothing comes out. It is sad. I do not like that about myself. She says she understands and that she knows I love her. I hope so. I am very bad at events and moments.

Regardless of the day or event, I am very grateful I have a partner with whom I have the same mind. We both love our Lord, value His sacrifice, and desire to sacrifice ourselves. We encourage each other to take every ministry opportunity regardless of time and separation. We challenge each other in our ministry and holiness. We are not the perfect couple. We battle selfishness, hurt feelings, and old wounds. Marriage does not just happen. It takes work, commitment, and forgiveness. Marriage is an act of the will. I will love, I will forgive, I will serve. We say “I do” at our weddings in agreement with the vows, but we must say “I will” everyday.

There is a better groom for my wife. And in fact, a better groom for me. It is Jesus. He, of course, will be the best Husband ever. We await the great wedding which will be an eternal marriage.

I must confess that because of the daily routine and requirements of my life, eternal is often a concept and not a reality. Living for eternity is a truth which is too often swallowed up in the temporal. It is hard, isn't it? The temporal is ever before us and ever demanding of our time and attention, so that we know the truth of eternity but life in light of the present. This sad admission applies to my view of heaven and my future position in heaven.

Bride of Christ. Wow! I am a part of the Bride of Christ. I often have the privilege of working with couples who are about to be married. They spend so much time preparing for the day of the wedding. And they also meet with me in counseling preparing for the marriage. It is the focus of their engagement period. And even though they are not married yet, they begin to make decisions based on the future and their lives together. They no longer make a decision in the vacuum of self. But rather they begin to see that every decision is to be made in light of their spouse to be. How does this affect us? What will we do? Where shall we go?  

So if we were to apply the same mentality to our future groom, how would that change how I think and act? What priorities would it change? What would I stop doing? And what would I become more intentional about?  

This thinking would also affect my view of my fellow brides. The church would become something I see not as a place or event; no, it would be THE joyful gathering and living fellowship of those to whom I am working together with to be a wonderful bride. Together helping and serving the purpose of bringing joy and pleasure to the groom, excited to look forward to the day of our presentation by the Father to the Groom. And until that time, each moment is spent in anticipation of the wedding. Therefore, it is a consuming life.

What makes you do more than think of heaven as a future destination? What keeps you holding loosely to this earth? “Behold! The bridegroom comes” is music to my ears. I just need to work to make it a movement of my life.

Maranatha

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Video Sunday: 7 Miles by Matt Chandler

Happy Resurrection Day! Matt Chandler makes a great point in this clip about the silliness of some of the modern day theories that Jesus did not rise from the dead. I think he drives his point home in a real way!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rid of My Disgrace by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb

The other day I saw that Rid of My Disgrace by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb was being offered free for the kindle (sorry, its not any longer). I told my wife that she might like to get it as it was the book that I was just finishing. She asked if it was any good. My response summarizes what I initially thought of this book. I said, "Its a book on sexual assault, I don't know if can be any good."

What I meant by that has nothing to do with the style of writing by the Holcomb's. It has nothing to do with the content of the book. It has nothing to do with it being boring or dry. It has everything to do with the topic of the book. How can we say that something we read on sexual assault is good? But the more I thought about it, the more I contemplated that statement, I think I was wrong. I think I was wrong because the main thought that is being taught in this book is that there can be grace found for the victims of sexual assault even in their disgrace. The Holcomb's do a wonderful job of showing the healing nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It alone is what can overcome the pain and suffering of those who have experienced sexual assault.

The statistics are staggering. They say that "at least one in four women and one in six men are or will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime" (13). That breaks my heart. That means there are many hurting people who are alone and scared who have never spoken of their brokenness and pain. This also means that a book like this is a needed resource. If anyone has ever suffered under the burden of being sexually abused, this is a book that they should read. No matter how difficult it is for them.

One of the difficulties in dealing with this topic is arriving at a definition of sexual assault. They spend an entire chapter explaining their extensive and comprehensive definition. Here is how they define it:
"Sexual assault is any type of behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority" (28).
The heart of the book is found as they show how the grace of God in the gospel is applied to the varied responses to being sexually abused. They deal with the responses of denial, distorted self-image, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. In each case, they show how the gospel of Jesus Christ is where healing can begin.

For instance, in the chapter on anger, they show how the gospel leads someone to forgiveness. They describe that anger "can be a natural and healthy response to sexual assault" (125). But more often than not, the anger leads to sin in the heart of the victim. They say,
"Scripture does not instruct Christians to suppress anger. However, it is where you go and what you do with your anger that must be examined. There is godly anger and sinful anger. Godly anger is healing and redemptive; sinful anger is ugly and vindictive as it gives way to bitterness and hatred" (127). 
The solution? Forgiveness.
"You may be offended or shocked, and that would make sense since forgiveness is an outrage 'against straight-line dues-paying morality.' But Christianity is not about karma; it is about grace. And this grace is sometimes shocking" (132).
They continue . . .
"Some have suggested that calling victims to forgive perpetrators may cause revictimization. That is certainly true when forgiveness is described in a simplistic, shallow, insensitive manner and not biblically defined. However, denying a victim the sense of freedom that only comes after biblical forgiveness has taken place, perpetuates the suffering caused by the initial assault because it allows the poison of hatred to continue to fester. To make forgiveness contingent on the perpetrator's repentance intensifies revictimization by stripping a victim of power and placing control back into the hands of the perpetrator . . . Your forgiving the perpetrator is not sanctioning the violence they did to you. Forgiveness does not mean that you do not participate in activities that impose consequences on evil behavior such as calling the police, filing reports, church discipline, criminal proceedings, etc. You can forgive your abuser without the expectation of pretending the assault never happened" (135-6).
I think you get a sense of the directness of the gospel they apply to the situations of sexual abuse. My heart breaks for any of you who have experienced this. Maybe a book like this will give you some direction and help as you sift through the pain and suffering. I think it might just help lead you to Jesus, from whom all real healing is found.