Category Archives: Blogging For Books

With – Skye Jethani [Book Review]

BOOKS

Skye Jethani’s book “With” is a simple premise…

Live With God.

The book focuses on the stages of life, “Life over God,” “Life apart from God,” “Life Under God,” “Life from God,” and finally “Life from God” The book does a fantastic job of showing how as we mature in our faith and we begin to take part in unity and communion with God, our mindset shifts and our life shifts.

Learning to live with God, where he is our source and supply is a central theme of The Christian life. The power of the cross was that is brought us back into functioning unity with God. Jesus poured His life out so we could Live with Him.

This is not a book that is going to teach you something NEW, but rather reinforce the things that are basic to the faith. It will encourage you and help you to shift your mind to life in a higher mode of life.

The reason to have this book is not because it will change your life, but rather because it keeps your life on point. This is a book that reminds you of th truth you are supposed to know in a fresh and imaginative way….

My free review copy of this book was given by Booksneeze.com

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Desiring God Revised Edition [Review]

Thanks as always to the kind folks over at Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me with a free copy of John Piper’s Book “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist [Revised Edition]” With that said, here are my thoughts on this excellent book

John Piper presents a simple thesis, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

In other words, The more we desire, enjoy, and Love God, the more he is exalted in our lives, and by extension the lives of those around us.

Desiring God: Meditations of A Christian Hedonist was written 25 years ago, a whole year before I was born. Yet in that time, I never have gotten around to reading it.

I can honestly say I am glad that I did. In reading this book, nothing was radically changed in my theology. This book did not give me an epiphany or turn my world upside down. Instead it gave me language to better express the Life I already live.

Chapter One really helps define Piper’s term “Christian Hedonist” which is what he calls those who live out the thesis of this book. Then as the book progresses, he gives you insight as to how you can live this out in 9 key areas of your life; Conversion, Worship, Love, Scripture, Prayer, Money, Marriage, Missions, and Suffering.

This practical guide gives you theology and simple thinking that shows you how to most Glorify god in these areas. To really make him to focus, and the be able to look at these area with happiness and joy. These are areas that would otherwise be points of contention in our lives, especially money, and suffering.

I so throughly enjoyed this book, that I am intending on reading through it a second time. I would highly recommend it. If you can adopt this lifestyle, you will tap into untold joy and strength, and peace in your life by the simple act of enjoying Jesus Christ.

In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day [Review]

BOOKS

As part of the Blogging For Books program, I am reviewing the book: In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day. The book was provided free of Charge by Waterbrook Multnomah for the purposes of reading and reviewing.

Mark Batterson captured my attention simply by the quote on the back cover of this book. It says, “What if the Life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure, or your worst fear?”

WOW! This is such a profound question, you see, we often look at the bad times of our life and want to say its the works of the Devil trying to draw us away from the plans and purposes of God. What if that was wrong, what if it was God trying to draw you out of the filth and bringing you into his Future Hope?

I hadn’t even opened the book and already I felt the need to repent, you see I have been at one of the best and worst times of  my life. I am serving in ministry full time, traveling the world, leading powerful worship times, teaching in other countries, living the Life. However in the midst of this is financial hardship. I am not making a lot of money. I have some supporters but not alot. I pay my bills and live tight. What if this is God pulling me through the hardship to his Plans and Purposes, what if this is the test that reveals my true motives and heart toward him?

The  book is centered around the Biblical story of Beniah. In 2nd samuel 23:20 the Bible tells us of how Beniah went into a pit in the midst of the snow and killed a lion. He was one of David’s Mighty Men. Over time however, he rose to become the Top Military advisor under King David.

Beniah had faith to trust his God that if he was to go against the Lion, that the Lord would deliver him. This book is about Radical Faith. Much like Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick which I also reviewed.

Throughout the course of this book, Mark Batterson shows you the Seven traits that make up the DNA of a Lion Chaser. Those being; Overcoming Adversity, Unlearning Fears, Embracing Uncertainty, Calculating Risks, Seizing Opportunities, Defying Odds, and Looking Foolish.

In the past, I have heard sermons and read books with similar themes, however in this  book, Batterson manages to present it in a new way and explores a wonderful Biblical Lifestyle. This is not a book you sit and read quickly, each skill listed above is something that as you read you should examine yourself with prayer and soul searching. Each chapter, I asked the Lord to come and reveal to me how I could strengthen myself in the areas discussed in the book.

IF you have the time and opportunity, I recommend  this book as something you should read. I am beginning to love books that build faith, this is not something that was always the case, but I guess I just need my faith built up more.

I mentioned earlier that I am serving in ministry, if you are willing to donate to help support me that would be amazing. Any gift is helpful. If you think you can help, or feel a desire to help, send me an email. matreames@gmail.com.

Awakening – Blogging For Books

BOOKS

So I already wrote two blogs about the same chapter of one book. So what? I am a blogger, I don’t follow your rules, If I want to write the same thing everyday I can. But this time I want to do a review of the book as a whole. You see it took me longer to work through this book than I expected. Truth be told, I am not really done, because once you start reading this book and letting it sink into your Spirit, you need to spend some time.

There is a 21-day plan attached to the book which is what I am currently working through. But I wanted to take some time to discuss the book as a whole. Stovall Weems writes on the subject of awakening. This is a term I hear thrown around a lot but never truly pointed toward.  For instance, we speak of the “Great Awakening and the things happened with that. We might speak of awakening as simply people becoming more active in the church, or we might have other ideas.

Pastor Stovall looks at it differently. He looks at awakening as something deeply personal. Awakening is your Spirit opening itself to the Lord in a new way to grow spiritually, and to change, and conform more to his ways. It is an acceptance of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to become active in your life.

The thing about awakening is that it is extremely contagious. If you are awakened to Jesus in a life changing way, others notice. They see God moving in you and on you, and they are drawn to you. Then your personal awakening becomes a community awakening. I posit that if more of us truly read and understood the teaching in this book we would see our land healed. See 2nd Chronicles 7:14.

This is a life changing book. It will teach you how to grow in spiritual disciplines that will cause you to Grow in Christ. In Luke 2:52 it said that Jesus “Grew in wisdom, stature, and favour among God and man.” If he had to grow, why do we think we do not need to? If you read Stovall’s book, and apply the principles he teaches in a practical way, you will never be the same.

If you are reading this, I want to encourage you to read the post I published last night, “The Packiam Pickle” It really challenged me, and is still doing so, much like this book is challenging me.

The Doctrine of Grace as a catalyst for Spiritual Awakening.

grace

I am still stuck on the doctrine of Grace in my personal life. I know some of this is going to be repetitious from my previous blog on the subject, but bear with me. These are the notes for the class I teach on Wednesday nights. This is what I was intending to share with my college ministry before it was decided the group was going on a break.

 

We all try to draw closer to God. There are many disciplines by which we achieve this; Fasting, worship, prayer, studying the word, etc… However these alone by themselves do not make us closer to God.

To ignite the Spiritual Awakening within us, we need to truly understand, and live in, the Doctrine of The Grace of God. Pastor Stovall Weems defines grace beautifully in his book Awakening. “Grace is the practical working of the Goodness of God in the life of the Believer.”

If we are not actively living in this grace, then all of our spiritual disciplines are worthless because they are works of the flesh and vain human effort. You could fast 21 days straight but, if it is not done with the Goodness of God enabling you, it is for nothing. When we live in the Grace of God, there is an empowerment to grow.

Many people have a distorted view of Grace. They view Grace as a license to sin. It is not. Grace was never given so that you could sin. If you need proof, remember that before you were saved and living in the grace of God you were a sinner. Lets look at Rom 5:8 NASB “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Grace instead becomes the enablement to live the life of holiness. We need to connect Grace with the fruit of Love. We have discussed the Jewish Shopkeeper in Jerusalem a few times, but I love his worldview. “When you love someone you want to be a better person, you desire to better yourself to please them more.”

The next “enemy” of grace is the Law. Most people fall into legalism. They fast a certain amount, or pray a number of hours a day, because they have been taught that is what we must do. We focus on the Commandments, especially the Ten Commandments. We get lost in a system of rules, regulations and strategy. However this was never the purpose of the Law.

Continuing to think about what Pastor Stovall has said, he shows three purposes of the Law.

  1. It helped to keep Israel under Guard
    1. Gal 3:23 NASB “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.”
  2. The Law was given to show us our need for the Saviour. It points us to Jesus.
    1. Gal 3:24 NASB “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.”
  3. The Law shows us the Justice of God. God has to punish sin, because he is Just. The Law shows us the consequences of Our sin.

However the grace of God is the solution to this. Lets look at one of the most beautiful passages in scripture. Found in Hebrews Chapter 8. Here God explains the technical side of the New covenant.

Heb 8:10-12 NASB 10“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. 12 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”

I love this passage of scripture because it shows us the true nature of Grace. Not only does he forgive us from our sins, but he goes beyond that. He takes the time to write the law upon your heart, and enter it into your mind. This is a harkening back to the words of the prophet Jeremiah. The writer of Hebrews here is quoting from Jeremiah 31:33. Also, it is a reminder of the words of Psalm 199:11, where the writer of the psalm says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

The new covenant is the Grace of God erasing our prior sins and putting the Law in our hearts and minds. The purpose of this is to renew the covenant that God spoke four times in the Old Testament.

Obviously we have seen it in Jeremiah 31:33, but it also appears in Leviticus 26:12, Ezekiel 36:28, and Ezekiel 37:27. God wants us to be his people, and he wants to be our God. This is the covenant. Both the old and the new covenant were to this point. Jesus was the one who bridged the two covenants so that all might experience this Relationship with Abba God.

So, when God forgives us of our sins it is not so we can keep doing it, it is so that we can move on; so that we can draw closer to him. The thing about the doctrine of Grace is that we live it fully when we first get saved. How do I know this? Look at a newly saved person, they have life, and vitality, and energy, and exuberance, and Joy. They know they are screwed up, but they know that God’s grace is fully at work in their lives and that grace is going to change them. It takes a little while before this wears off. Why does it wear off? Religion creeps in. Legalism creeps in. The lies of the enemy and the lies of other Christians creep in. What do I mean when I say this? I mean you start off living fully under grace, but then people come at you with the do’s and do not’s of the Christian life. They give you the systems that they have that are supposed to help you grow. But often times these systems just make you start working for it.

When you live in the flowing Grace of God, its not a work. Its an act of Love, and when that religious, legalistic, works mindset comes in and tries to take away the grace of God, that is when It becomes hard.

I have good news for you. THIS GOSPEL IS NOT HARD!! In fact it is the easiest thing in the world. It’s so easy that Children at the temple in Jerusalem were able to see the Messiah for who he is. This is not a hard thing to be doing. We need to just rekindle the flame of Love within our hearts. We need to remind ourselves of the Grace of God, and we need to ask God to make that Grace living, breathing, and active in our lives. If we have that grace in us, then everything else will become easier.

You want to get closer to God? You want to be able to pray more, and talk to him more? You want to be able to fast and draw closer to him? You want to worship him so much that he can’t help but come to you? You can’t do that on a works based system; you can’t do that with religion. You do it with the Grace of God.

He helps you to fast, and pray and read the word, and worship. You ask him to teach you, to woo you, and to draw you deeper. That is what living in the grace is all about.

The question however, is this; “How do we get the Grace of God active and living in our daily lives?” Once more referring to Pastor Stovall,

  • Be Intentional
    • Ask God to lavish his Love and His Goodness upon you
  • Be focused
    • Begin the day by focusing on the Glory, Goodness and Grandeur of God
  • The Lord’s Prayer
    • Recite the prayer, but not just to say some words, think about all that each word and phrase means, and how it affects your life.

Thinking about Grace

grace

I am reading the book, “Awakening” by Pastor Stovall Weems. When I began reading this, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “This book is going to require some carpet time.” The fourth chapter of the book is called “Rediscovering Grace.” A basic summary would say that We need to understand the doctrine of grace if we are going to live in spiritual awakening.

The More I think about grace the less I know.  I have many friends who have many different views on grace. Some are very traditional Holiness types who think grace is the forgiveness of the sin to get you saved, but once your saved you  better live holy. Some think that Once you are saved you are free to do anything because of Grace. Other don’t believe you need to be saved, but that the work of the cross was for everyone regardless of your choice to follow Christ. Others have different views of course, but I don’t really feel like listing all the views of Grace.

Stovall  does a wonderful job of explaining his view of Grace in this book. He defines grace this way, “Grace is the practical working of the Goodness of God in the life of the Believer.” He then goes deeper into the purposes of Grace. The primary of which is an invitation to Love God more. Grace sets us free from our sins, and gives us the opportunity to Live better.

Some people would argue that living in the depths of the doctrine of Grace would cause you to live recklessly, but Stovall contends that when you have been forgiven, you have more inclination to Love. Then when you love more, you live better.  He reminds us of the word of the Lord written in the Book of Hebrews Chapter 8: 10-12

“10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Notice here that Jesus writes the law of the covenant upon our heart, and puts it in our minds. This is The Lord empowering us by his grace to live the Right way. I love this, because I know that I am not capable of living right on my own. The more I fall in love with him the more I want to please him. The problem is my flesh seems to get in the way.

It thank God for his grace, he is working in my Heart and renewing my mind to live a new way. He continually pulls away the veils over my eyes and shows me who I am compared to who he is. Do I like this, not at all, but it is the way he helps me to change myself, and I always like the improved me better than the old me.

I am looking forward to the journey through this book. I am looking forward to the spiritual awakening that is coming to me. I am looking forward to more of His presence living and active in my life. But most of all I am excited to be living in the Love and Grace of God.

As always, comments and thoughts are appreciated.

Sun Stand Still – Blogging For Books

BOOKS

This is a blogging for Books Post. Waterbrook Multnomah provided the book free of charge so that I could review it.
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I have been taught about faith since I was a child. I have heard sermons and read books from many great faith preachers. But none has challenged me as much as Steven Furtick.

In his book sun stand still he discusses the God who does the incredible to provide for his people. Unlike many faith preachers who tell stories of grandeur and make them seem almost unattainable, Furtick manages to make even the most miraculous thing seem merely commonplace.

We server a God of the miraculous, who some even describe as naturally supernatural. But we in our own lives barely make it to naturally natural. But Furtick urges us to move to “Audacious Faith”

After having read this book, I am realizing that I am not living near my potential. In the past I have been told this, but it never reached into my heart. Now, I am striving to believe for the impossible and move into Audacious Faith