The Messiah: 11 Mediations from the Book of Mark [Weekend Resource]

I’m not going to try to sell you on the top three reasons why you should download this exceptionally written, free book (See there? I only used two reasons).

Or maybe I should tell you the rest of the story…

This 36 page ebook will hit you like a wallop upside the head. It is a page turner. It is written by Demian Farnworth. It is a compilation of arguably his finest series on his blog, Fallen and Flawed. It presents the identity of Christ so clearly, you will be breathless.

I guess the bottom line is: You ought to download and read The Messiah: Eleven Mediations from the Book of Mark.

Here’s a short excerpt from the introduction to whet your appetite:

“Something happens when you systematically read through a gospel narrative like the book of Mark: You are confronted with the real Jesus.

“Gone are the pretty pictures of a gentle man lugging a lamb around on his shoulders.

“Instead, you meet a man who is vast in wisdom, terrifying in strength and exceptional in humility. So vast, terrifying and exceptional you begin to wonder if he is God.”

Here are five ideas for way to use the book from Demian & Co.:

1. Book.
Read it and move on. Pretty straightforward. You could take it a bit further and brag [or rag] on it–whether here, Scribd or your social media site of choice.

2. Devotional.
Print the book out and hunker down each morning with a chapter. Meditate on the messages like you might a page from Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest.

3. Tract.
The book is 30 pages of very short chapters, so it’s easy to read. And the content [the identity of Jesus] is perfect for introducing non-believers to the gospel.

4. Study Guide.
Print this book out and walk your study group or Sunday school class through it. Could stretch into an eleven week course.

5. Gift
Print several copies of the book to give away. Mail some to faraway friends and relatives.

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The Page from C.S. Lewis that Changed John Piper’s Life [Weekend Resource]

I’m always looking for good material to feature for the Weekend Resources series.

This week, C.S. Lewis has graciously agreed to do a guest post (meaning, I have more or less picked over some of his work and found a short, profitable piece for readers).

This happens to be the page from C.S. Lewis that John Piper says changed his life [PDF].

**The following is an except of The Weight of Glory [PDF], by C.S. Lewis.**

What is the Highest Virtue?

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness.

But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love- You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance.

Replacing Love With the Negative Ideal of Unselfishness

The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.

I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

We are Far Too Easily Pleased

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Now I encourage you to  download and read the remaining eight pages of The Weight of Glory.

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A Sweet & Bitter Providence [Weekend Resource]

This is audio Bible study at its finest, and that needs to inform your listening approach. Here’s what I mean.

John Piper’s new book, A Sweet & Bitter Providence, is out in audio format at christianaudio.com. The book is more of a Bible study than just a drive-by reading. It is more polished than a sermon, more fervent than a commentary, with more Biblical depth than the typical Christian book.

Piper tackles issues like sex, race, and the sovereignty of God head-on. With gripping clarity, he opens the Book of Ruth chapter by chapter and proves that the three-thousand year old book is still relevant today.

So here is how I would approach this audiobook and turn it into an excellent Bible study on the Book of Ruth.

Read a chapter of Ruth each week. Meditate on it, pray over it during your time with God.

Then, set a time each week to listen to the audiobook. Approach it as a Bible study by digging into the text yourself, and then listening to John Piper add depth to your understanding.

You will enjoy the narrator of the audiobook. He puts enough expression into his voice to avoid sounding mechanical. I had a slight complaint at first blush as the narrator read all of the verse references. But that turns into an asset when you use the Bible study approach.

Get a Taste for the Book: A Quote

“One of the great diseases of our day is trifling. The things with which most people spend most of their time are trivial. And what makes this a disease is that we were meant to live for magnificent causes.

“None of us is really content with the trivial pursuits of the world. Our souls will not be satisfied with trifles. …So our souls shrivel. Our lives become trivial. And our capacity for magnificent causes and great worship dies.

“The book of Ruth wants to teach us that God’s purpose for his people is to connect us to something far greater than ourselves.”

Note: This review was done as part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program.

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Humility: True Greatness [Weekend Resource]

If I met someone presuming to have something to say about humility, automatically I’d think him unqualified to speak on the subject.

So are the feelings of CJ Mahaney as he wrote his book, Humility: True Greatness. But Mahaney’s work merits your attention, at least for one primary reason.

He is writing as a fellow pilgrim pursing humility by the grace of God. His goal? Help you make humility the everyday attire of your life instead of a mere performance. Mahaney approaches that goal in the only effective manner.

The Only Path to Humility

What is the only effective way to find humility? By recognizing that humans “cannot free ourselves from pride and selfish ambition; a divine rescue is absolutely necessary.” Yes, we must redefine greatness to mean serving others instead of being served. Yes, we must see the foolishness of pride. But in the end, all endeavors to find humility are futile if they do not lead you do the cross of Christ. Christ alone offers hope for humility by ransoming us from bondage to pride.

Finding the Authentic Servant’s Heart…At Last

I highly recommend this audiobook…it ranks in the top tier of books I’ve read. Evidence: I’ve read the print version several times as well as listened to the audio from christianaudio.com [that’s a dual statement of the book’s quality and my need]. The book itself is no salvation, but it clearly explains the gospel of Jesus Christ who alone offers real humility. The kind of authentic servant’s heart that you’ve never found anywhere else.

Note: This review was done as part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program.

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Revolution in World Missions – Free Book [Weekend Resource]

It is hard to turn down a free book. Especially a book of true stories and insightful teaching melded together.

Why I Recommended A Book Without Reading It

Small confession to make: I haven’t actually read the whole book. But when I went to gauge the quality of the book, I skipped straight to chapter 11 where the author lays out the importance of the gospel. Red flags should go up if a book on missions misses the gospel. This book didn’t. And throughout the book, it solidly exposes false gospels that we may be tempted to embrace.

All that said, don’t neglect to read with discernment.

How to Get Your Free Copy

Three ways get your copy of Revolution in World Missions for free.

First, go order your free copy and wait for it to come in the mail.

After that, you will get a link in your email that will allow you to download the audiobook and PDF version for free as well.

Book Summary

Yohannan lays out his own story and presents biblical insights on world missions.

From the website:

“In this exciting and fast moving narrative, K.P. Yohannan shares how God brought him from his remote Indian village to become the founder of Gospel for Asia, which supports thousands of native missionaries.”

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Driven to Prayer: Our Extremities are the Lord’s Opportunities [Weekend Resource]

Usually I reserve the Weekend Resource slot for a post covering a website, book review, free download, or some other resource that may be of use to you in your pursuit of the God pursing you.

Other weekends I post a series of quotes or a short article written by someone else. That’s what this is. A brother in the Lord, Al Hartman, posted the following piece from Spurgeon in the comment section of a previous post on prayer and fighting sin. I don’t want you to miss this.

An Excerpt from Morning and Evening, by Charles Spurgeon

Beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ (Matthew 14:30)

Sinking times are praying times with the Lord’s servants. Peter neglected prayer at starting upon his venturous journey, but when he began to sink, his danger made him a suppliant, and his cry, though late, was not too late.

In our hours of bodily pain and mental anguish, we find ourselves as naturally driven to prayer as the wreck is driven upon the shore by the waves. The fox runs to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy-seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbor of refuge is All-prayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with full sail.

Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petition that Peter gasped out, but they were sufficient for his purpose. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity. If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing, they would be all the better. Verbiage is to devotion as chaff to the wheat. Precious things lie in small compass, and all that is real prayer in many a long address might have been uttered in a petition as short as that of Peter.

Our extremities are the Lord’s opportunities. Immediately a keen sense of danger forces an anxious cry from us, the ear of Jesus hears, and with Him ear and heart go together, and the hand does not long linger. At the last moment we appeal to our Master, but His swift hand makes up for our delays by instant and effectual action. Are we nearly engulfed by the boisterous waters of affliction? Let us then lift up our souls unto our Savior, and we may rest assured that He will not suffer us to perish. When we can do nothing, Jesus can do everything; let us enlist His powerful aid upon our side, and all will be well.
~C. Spurgeon / A. Begg

Click here to download the devotionals for the month of January out of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening.

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8 Bible Reading and Memory Plans [Weekend Resource]

Desire Spiritual Growth has two new pages: Bible Reading Plans and Bible Memory Plans under the Resources tab.

Both pages offer a buffet of Bible reading and memory plans, plus some “how-to” heavy artillery. Remember, our hope is not in the methods. But they are tools nonetheless. There’s value in having a plan to follow when reading the Bible. Maybe you want to methodically follow a beaten path by reading the Bible in a year. Or you want to plunge into a 90 day reading plan. Or maybe you’re like me and just want a plan so you can have something to meander back to once you’ve chased the rabbit trails.

Here’s a list for readers of all stripes.

Bible Reading Plans

  1. Tabletalk’s Bible in a Year Plan
  2. Entire Bible in 90 Days
  3. Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan
  4. 5×5×5 Bible Reading Plan
  5. Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan
  6. Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System
  7. 6 Ways to Access the ESV Bible Reading Plans

How to Have a Quiet Time

  1. Guide to the Quiet Time
  2. 7 Minutes with God
  3. How to Use Bible Study Methods [Confession From a Recovering Methods Addict]

Here’s everything you wanted to know about Bible memory, and then some.

Bible Memory Plan and Resources

  1. Create Your Own Memory Cards
  2. Fighter Verse Cards

How and Why to Memorize

  1. An Approach to Extended Bible Memory
  2. 18 Tricks To Memorize More Scripture
  3. How John Piper Memorizes Scripture
  4. Why Memorize Scripture?

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How to Ask Better Small Group Questions [Weekend Resource]

Now That's a Good Question! by Terry PowellCan you identify with the following prayer?

Dear God, so far today I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped or lost my temper. I haven’t cheated anyone out of money or stared at a beautiful woman with lust. I haven’t been grumpy or selfish, and I’m really glad of that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Amen.

Those are the opening lines of Now That’s a Good Question! by Terry Powell.

Who doesn’t want to read a book that starts off like that?

The purpose of this book is to aid the small group leader in leading a discussion.

  • What makes good question?
  • How do you ask effective, discussion-stimulating questions?
  • What is the difference between an interpretation and an application question?

In less than 100 easy-read pages, the book answers those questions, and many others [see table of contents].

You can download [for free] Chapter 1: Creating a Climate for Discussion.

The chapter is about…well, creating an effective discussion climate (like you needed me to tell you that). One of my favorite chapters in the book.

If you like what you see in the free sample, go here to buy Now That’s a Good Question! by Terry Powell.

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Dug Down Deep: A Review [Weekend Resource]

Dug Down Deep**Guest post by Demian Farnworth at Fallen and Flawed.**

Right here. Right now. I’m coining a new word: “confessional reformed narrative.”

What do I mean by that? Simply this: a “confessional reformed narrative” is a book on reformed doctrine couched in stories–the author’s and others.

Think Unfashionable by Tullian T. Or Why We’re Not Emergent by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a bad thing.

Just a trend I’ve noticed. A trend, I speculate, cropping up to answer Emergent writers emphasis on “narrative.”

“Sure,” these writers seem to be saying, “you can have your narrative. But not without something to stand on.”

It’s that “something to stand on” that makes them reformed.

Josh Harris’ newest book Dug Down Deep–Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters falls into this “confessional reformed narrative” category.

Harris of I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame is all grown up now. He’s entered the early stages of mid-life. And now he’s wondering what in the world he believed in the past–it certainly wasn’t sturdy or even safe.

Page through this highly-readable book and what you discover is that seemingly worn-out words like theology, doctrine and orthodoxy ARE important. Especially if he wants to walk on the “pathway of the mysterious, awe-filled experience of truly knowing the living Jesus Christ.”

In essence, Harris argues that theology matters. And he aims to teach you theology. He aims to give your faith something to stand on. But with a slant. His slant.

Like any good theologian, he starts with the character of God. Theology proper…

But you wouldn’t know that from the chapter title “Near but Not in My Pocket” or the chapter sub-title “God is utterly different from me. And that is utterly wonderful.”

Or take the chapter on Christology: “God with a Bellybutton.”

See that? This is his method. And it’s clever. Indeed, once you read the chapter you almost want to lynch him for being so clever.

The great part is he never lets up…from one doctrine to the next.

So what Dug Down Deep ends up being is a great introduction to theology. The structure of our belief. Which, as Harris points out, is significant:

“Many of us are not theologically informed. Truth about God doesn’t define us and shape us.”

What does shape us? Our culture. Is that what you want?

More tantalizingly, though, are the stories–the confessions and narratives threaded throughout his book.

Forgive me, but tales about drunk Amish teenagers, a remarkably-well drawn cartoon to explain our struggle with flesh AND the sneak-peek into Harris’ one-time live-in mentorship with pastor C. J. Maheny–to name just a few–are captivating.

To be serious though, the real gem is the last chapter “Humble Orthodoxy.” A chapter that points out that hostility or arrogance has no place in historical Christian faith because, in the end, there will only be one right person.

You can probably figure out who that person is.

Demian Farnworth is keynote blogger for Fallen and Flawed.

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Weekend Resource: Customize PDF Verse Cards for Your Bible Memory

VCMHere’s a simple tool for creating printable verse card for Bible memory.

The Verse Card Maker was created by Michael Scott, who graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Sciences, but is now in seminary pursuing a Masters of Divinity. He’s offering you a free tool that is one of the fruits of his labor.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3, without the 2
Unless the defaults don’t suit you, there are only two steps.

Type in the references and then click “Make Cards.”

From the website:

“The Verse Card Maker is a simple and efficient way to create customized verse cards for scripture memory. The only thing required of the user is a list of references, and then the Verse Card Maker does the rest by fetching the text and returning a fully formatted PDF ready for front and back printing.”

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