April 27, 2017

Reading the Puritans: Where Should You Start?

The Puritans lived over 200 years ago, but their words still speak today. Through careful study of Scripture and much prayer, they left a legacy of writings and sermons that address the mind, confront the conscience, and engage the heart. And those who make the effort to mine their works carefully reap rich rewards! (Not sure what I'm talking about? Learn who the Puritans were and why you should read them.) But the list of Puritan authors is over 2000 names long, and their published works number even higher. So where do you start? Here are some favorite go-to recommendations for getting started: Voices from the Past -- Volume 1 and Volume 2 A collection of single-page devotional [...Read More]


Why Should You Read the Puritans?

It's been over two hundred years since the Puritans passed into eternity (as we looked at here), but they left a rich legacy of sermons and writings that speak to the whole of our being. Their works address the mind, confront the conscience, and engage the heart. Those who make the effort to mine their works carefully reap rich rewards!  Their teachings offer fresh perspective of sin, society, and holiness; frank discussions of biblical truth; and transparent exposition of Scripture. But their works are not dusty tomes best left to academia; they are vital and relevant messages for us today! Our world has changed drastically in the last few hundred years (good grief, it's [...Read More]


Who Were the Puritans, Anyway?

From the sixteenth to eighteenth century lived a group of men and women who plunged diligently into the depths of Scripture, passionately upholding it as the ultimate standard for both belief and practice, and leaving a rich legacy of writings on the practical application of biblical doctrine. They were known as the Puritans. You might recognize some of their names: John Bunyan, Stephen Charnock, Richard Baxter, Matthew Henry, Thomas Brooks, Richard Sibbes, John Flavel, John Owen, Isaac Watts, Jonathan Edwards . . . the list goes on to include over 2,000 great men of God. They were intelligent men, though not necessarily well-known outside their circle of fellow believers. Many [...Read More]


#Read2017 – Literary Adventures in January & February

It's always fun to start a new challenge, and this year's #Read2017 challenge is no exception. I learned some things last year--like the need to stay more balanced with fiction and nonfiction--and discovered just how much I enjoy biographies and certain authors (here's looking at you, Tolkien and Wodehouse), and am anticipating a good year of learning and exploring more genres. As usual, I started off the year with a bang, reading 9 books in 2 months (not counting the re-read I did of my favorite Dee Henderson series), most of which fit under specific categories for this year's challenge. One book was chosen as my local library's book club selection, two were sent as review copies, and [...Read More]


You Don’t Need to Learn How to ‘Love Yourself’

Last week was Valentine's Day, and I couldn't believe how many times I saw the phrase love yourself. The world of greeting cards, inspirational books, and social media posts is filled to overflowing with this idea that we must love ourselves better (or more) before we can love others. But I'm pretty sure that's not what my Bible says . . . What did Christ call the two greatest commandments? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Notice He didn't say to love yourself first so that you can love others or God. He said to love others as you already love yourself. Nobody needs to be told to love themselves! We spend so many [...Read More]


Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age

It seems like the more control we gain over our physical well-being, the more we want to control -- and the more it scares it when we can't! But what if we've been approaching our healthcare all wrong? As frail, mortal humans we place a premium on physical health. We want to be healthy and whole. If we are hurt or injured, we seek a remedy. If we are diseased, we seek a cure. We exercise, diet, and take vitamins to keep our bodies working in prime condition. We even spend money on well-visits just to make sure there's nothing wrong behind the scenes. None of that is wrong . . . until it crowds out everything else. None of that is harmful until it becomes our main focus in life, causing [...Read More]


The Problem with Fig Leaves

In the beginning, God created the world and its inhabitants, and all was spectacularly perfect. And God created two special beings in His own image and placed them in a beautiful garden, filled with trees that were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Along with the trees that provided regular sustenance, there was also a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God gave man a very simple, clear command: "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat." One day a shining serpent appeared and began to prey on the woman's inner desire for that one forbidden thing, subtly twisting God's words and [...Read More]


Ten Important Things You Should Do in 2017

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2017? Whether you set New Year's resolutions, pick a word for the year, or simply choose a handful of goals to pursue over the next 12 months, the beginning of a new year is a perfect time to step back, reassess your priorities, and set markers to steer you in the direction you want to go. There's a reason we tend to do all that in January. My theory? All the new toys and gadgets we get for Christmas inspire us to carve out time to try new things, push us to re-organize our possessions to find room for everything, and motivate us to improve a skill or expand our understanding in some area. Plus there's the whole "new calendar" vibe that encourages us [...Read More]


Join the Reading Challenge in 2017!

Good books have been some of my best friends, mentors, comforts, and sources of enjoyment throughout my life. But perhaps the greatest thing they have been is my teachers. We can learn so much from any type of book! Fiction can help us better understand other personalities, explore different areas of the world, and learn how to deal with various real-life situations. Nonfiction can teach us about great people and great events, guide us in discovery about the world and ourselves, help us improve in a skill or pursue a hobby, and teach us how to think through various topics or concepts. Reading a variety of genres and topics will not only stretch our minds and mature our thinking, but it [...Read More]


The Unexpectedness of the First Christmas

The virgin birth of Christ in Bethlehem had been prophesied hundreds of years before it actually happened. But it happened in a way that was completely unexpected. Mary was just an ordinary girl. Joseph, just a simple carpenter. The manger in Bethlehem was surrounded by itchy hay and the sounds and smells of working animals. Not to mention the shepherds, who were the outcasts of society, were the last people who would be invited to worship a king. Think back to that time... It had been four long centuries since anyone had heard God's voice. Four hundred long years of pure unbroken silence. No divine messengers. No prophets. No visions or dreams. Just four hundred long years of [...Read More]