September 05, 2007

Win some commentaries

sept Giveaway

you can't beat no spam and some free books, perhaps.

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January 04, 2007

beg a book.

Every Christmas since High School, I've been haunted by an idea my Junior Bible teacher gave us--beg a book for Christmas. Instead of a bunch of other "useless" (as he called it) stuff, ask for things that will serve you in your walk with Christ. He even gave us extra-credit for doing it! This Christmas was beg a book overload. Now, if only my seminary teachers would give me points for raking this stack in. Hah.

I am blessed to have family and friends that cared about me enough to hook me up with this stuff!

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February 21, 2006

Grace & Truth Paradox: Book Review

Randy Alcorn
Every encounter with Christ was all grace. Every encounter with Christ was all truth. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” –John 1:14. We must be in every situation–100% Grace. 100% Truth. ”Truth without grace breeds self-righteousness and crushing legalism. Grace without truth breeds deception and moral compromise. Is it possible to embrace both in balance? Jesus did.“ [back cover] Both are completely needed in us so that we can show Christ to our brothers and sisters and to the lost.

What a challenging book. Alcorn’s premise is that we are to show others Christ. And in that ministry, we must love, but true love never lets go of any truth. He says, ”People had only to look at Jesus to see what God is like. People today should only have to look at us to see what Jesus is like. For better or worse, they’ll draw conclusions about Christ from what they see in us. If we fail the grace test, we fail to be Christlike. If we fail the truth test, we fail to be Christlike. If we pass both tests, we’re like Jesus.“ Oh how I need to show off Christ more. In many varying situations with the lost and in the church, I painfully admit to finding myself too little grace, and in others void of truth.

Alcorn lays out the problems. He mentions that we are quick to swing to one side or the other in this delicate pendulum. We are quick to ”love" and give people thier space, but in that, we forfeit the truth. He also decries the angry unloving truth bearers that proudly claim the 100% truth banner. The problem is, the Christ-model is far higher than both of these problems. Christ was the perfect balance of love and law. Christ never threw out love to dispense truth and vice versa. In all of His love, He dispensed all of His truth.

How I needed to see this. It reminded me that yes, every relationship must be toward the goal of the One Truth. If it is not, I am not loving. But along with that, I saw that in order to dispense truth like Christ did, I must be a graceful giver–sacrificing of my time, energy, money, love–in order for a greater channel of truth to be communicated. This book was a challenge to me to enlarge my number of relationships and to expand the depth of them as well. Why? Because Christ sought all His grace and truth. I must seek the lost with that same grace and truth.

This was a great book. I loved every page. It was encouraging. Full of great personal stories and anecdotes. It kept me very interested. Praise the Lord for the challenge to get back to what I am here for—Showing others Christ as He wants Himself shown.

In the end, we don’t need grace or truth. We need grace and truth. And for people to see Jesus in us, they must see both.

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February 16, 2006

Humilty: True Greatness Book Review


C. J. Mahaney

This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit.–Isaiah 66:2. So needed. So timely. So beautiful. The humble man is layed out perfectly and plainly. A clear definition of what humility is, what pride is, what pride does, and how to daily cultivate humility. C. J. opens up a gorgeous picture of what true greatness is. He delivers the statement that the Greatest One that walked this earth was humble to show us how to be great. It’s done by death. Sacrifice. Pain. And our Savior leads the way in it. This is not society. This is not the norm. “True greatness is attained only by emulating the Savior’s example—and made possible only by the Savior’s sacrifice.” [p. 58]

The more and more that I take in from Soveriegn Grace Ministries, the more I am refreshed. It is such a cold drink of water to hear a humble, honest testimony of the vastness of man’s depravity contrasted with the infinity of God’s greatness. God is doing some serious work in my soul right now over my inabilities. Through messages, this book, examples of godly men, difficulties, I am seeing more and more the truth that God only uses me when I come to the end of self-reliance. When I come to the end of my ability. C. J. expounds that our first step is admitting we need help. Admitting our inability before God’s all-sufficient ability.

One of the most powerful segments of the book deals with what pride means to God. “Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge thier dependance upon Him.” Pride is “contending for supremacy” with God. [p. 31] Ouch. God hates that. He can’t look at it. He doesn’t reward it. It is vile to Him. That’s me. All the time. Doing things God hates. Ouch. God, help me to see the peril of pride that I might love humility with all my heart.

A major deterrent from cultivating humility comes from the all around us. Everything screams to promote self. The world loves to talk about things that are great. Self-exalting skilled people are praised constantly, yet they are farthest from true greatness. Even in my church, not in the leadership, but in the body, it seems that humbling yourself is looked down upon. We get so self-righteous thinking that its not right to talk about where we missed it. We somehow forget that “confessing your faults one to another that ye may be healed,” is in the Bible. It is better to just put up a good looking outside that everyone sees. Vomit. C. J. describes a major problem in churches when discussing with a friend, Jim, why his experience with church was different...why his church split, “Right from the beginning, Covenant Life had...a strong emphasis on humility, especially among the leaders. Jim thought, Nope. That we did not have...When it comes to the values we live by, what will others say about us one day? Will they testify that humility charecterized our lives?” [p. 23] How I need God to work humility in me, that I may be an example to those I touch. It’s time to turn the corner of the norm, self-righteous pride to the truly great, broken humility.

I loved this book. I loved every page. I loved it, but I hated it. The first half of it was a dagger at times, other times it was a sword, other times a big club. Ouch. But amazingly and wonderfully, the end of the book was a wonderful balm for those wounds. C. J. lays out a wonderful plan in the last half of the book. Super practical application of how to work it. Mornings, evenings, words, sports, parenting, trials. It is perfect. His word on sleep was great; I’ve never heard it put that way, but it is so good! Take a chapter a week and try to implement these things and they will go a long way to cultivating humility and weakening pride. How powerful.

Pride takes inumberable forms but has only one end: self-glorification. That’s the motive and ultimate purpose of pride—to rob God of legitimate glory and to pursue self-glorification, contending for supremacy with Him. The proud person seeks to glorify himself and not God, thereby attempting in effect to deprive God of something only He is worthy to recieve.

No wonder God opposes pride. No wonder He hates pride. Let that truth sink into your thinking.

To learn true humility, we need more than a redefinition of greatness; we need even more than Jesus’ personal example of humble service. What we need is His death.

There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross.


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June 14, 2005

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire - Book Review

Rating: . . . if you look at what I have problems with.

Jim Cymbala

The amazing awakening of the congregation of Brooklyn Tabernacle. Pastor Cymbala displays the history of what God did in changing the mindset of a tiny, fledgling congregation in Brooklyn from man-focus to God-focus. This book is full of short snippets of the history and ministry of the Brooklyn Tab--a chronicle of God’s working in the city. Starting at the beginning of Cymbala’s ministry, the book opens with stories of failure and heartache. A 20 person discouraged church almost made Jim Cymbala quit, but through the difficulty and pressures, God broke Pastor Cymbala and used him to turn the congregations attention off themselves and onto the All-sufficient. Jim Cymbala rightly attributes what is going on at the church to what goes on in their Tuesday night prayer meetings. Story after story of changed lives fill these pages. The gospel is lifted high as it shown changing the hardest of stories into the best. Amazing stories of specific answered prayers are all over this book. Amazing. Only God. The book’s main focus is a call to prayer. A call back to our knees. A call back to dependence. This book is a story of what happened when one church did just that.

I love the city…New York City, that is. I love the people; I love the excitement. I love the hugeness of it all. I just love the city. So, anything that burdens me that way is a great use of my time. I discovered this book along with 10 other great hardbacks at a garage sale. All of them just 50 cents each. Nice. I’m all about that. But, needless to say, I wasn’t expecting much. I had seen it on the shelf at Christian bookstores before, and I just passed it off as some charismatic book. Looked like that to me…Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire? Come on.

I was wrong. Wow. I can’t remember the last time I cried reading a book. I cried 4 times during this book. The stories in this book broke me. Amazing stories of prayer answered. Amazing accounts of God’s working because of prayer. Wow. God started a work in me through the stories and scriptures in this book that hasn’t left me. I am not a man of prayer. I am not broken. I spend my time “planning” (worrying) when I should be on my knees. I needed this.

Pastor Cymbala’s point is simple. God’s house is to be a house of prayer. The church was founded with a group of men praying. The Holy Spirit was poured out when people prayed. And, he says the church has been diverted from God’s best. We are too focused on non-essentials. Too excited about being in “the game” of the Christian life--I mean, “Yehaw, our church is growing…people are transferring their letter here,” and we are forgetting to look at the scoreboard that is telling us we are way behind. “We are like the church at Laodicea. In fact, we have so institutionalized Laodiceanism that we think lukewarm is normal.” (p. 91) It is time for a shaking. He decried the lures of novelty, marketing, and doctrine without power. Good stuff. Real good stuff, this shakes you up, and I loved it.

Obviously, I did not line up with everything in here. They were more charismatic and emotional than I would be. The implications were there, and they spoke louder than I would agree with at times. Also, he seemed to place more value on prayer than on preaching. Where I stand, they go hand in hand. Not one to the devaluing of another. Preaching must be bathed in prayer, but we can never preach too much in our churches. Those two things upset me, but at the heart, I saw His message as, “Get on your knees, be broken before your God. Humbly beg Him for the working!” (The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!) This book is powerful. Not because of its style of writing or exciting commentary. It is powerful, because it is the story of God answering prayer. It is worth the price of the book, just to read and rejoice with God’s people. It is worth the price of the book to be shaken back to a spirit of brokenness. It is worth the price of the book to be driven to your knees. Ooh. So good.

What does it say about our churches today that God birthed the church in a prayer meeting, and prayer meetings today are almost extinct?

Yes, the roughness of the inner-city life has pressed us to pray…but is the rest of the country in fine shape? I think not.

What we have today is the work of "technicians" or "revisionists" or "idea men" who fell the need to innovate, to devise novelties in order to help God's kingdom along.
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May 17, 2005

A Tale of Three Kings - Book Review


Gene Edwards

An intriguing story of the life, situations, and reactions of three kings--Saul, David, and Absalom. Using the Bible's account of David's choices as a framework, Gene Edwards lays out a very powerful case for the sovereign control of our God even in the most unimaginable situations. Edwards gives a delightfully human emotion to the struggles and thoughts that could have been floating around in David's head while his troubles with Saul and Absalom were in full swing. David is painted as having very humble responses in His encounters with insubordination, pride, and slander. His brokenness is portrayed perfectly. True leadership can only come through brokenness under God's control and power. The author paints God as in control, man as under His power, and every circumstance only as another opportunity to trust the All-sufficient. This book is a quick easy read (only 2-3 page chapters…100 pages in all.) Don't let the size fool you, though. It is solid. It should be noted that this book provides a beautiful variety to your reading. He has a mysteriously captivating style of story-telling that just draws you into what he is saying. It was refreshing.

Loved it. This book is a classic. Somehow, Edwards was able to bring me under deep conviction under the guise of sweeping me into a very intriguing, twisting story. I loved the fresh look at the narrative, but yet at the same time, by the end of each chapter, I kept getting whacked over the head with my own sinful reactions and my own pride in much easier trials. I still wanted to read more. I finished this book in 2 days; I was loving it. I didn't want it to end. I wanted more.

Each mini-chapter examines a different side of brokenness. Whether it is how to get good at dodging spears, or how important it is not to throw back those spears that are thrown at you, Edwards uses all the plunges in David's life to show off David's amazingly humble life. He describes David's pain as the news of his sons mutiny spreads to the palace, and yet in it all, David trusts. David trusts the God that delivered him from the power of a bear, the strength of a giant, even the snare of a deranged king Saul. He submits and submits and submits and submits and submits, no matter what.

The truth that is most evident in this book is that adversity is designed to break us into submission. David's difficulties, beginning with the days in the field as a shepherd boy and ending in the palace with a usurping son, only broke him to see and trust God. They taught him the submission that must come, and the leadership that is true. The leadership that only God can give.

[The days in the wilderness] were David's darkest hours. You know them as his pre-king days, but he didn't. He assumed this was his lot forever.

Suffering was giving birth. Humility was being born.

By earthly measures he was a shattered man; by heaven's measure, a broken one.

God has a university. It's a small school. Few enroll, even fewer graduate. Very few indeed.

God has this school because he does not have broken men. Instead He has several types of men. He has men who claim to be God's authority…and aren't; men who claim to be broken…and aren't. And men who are God's authority, but who are mad and unbroken. And he has regretfully, a spectroscopic mixture of everything in between. All of these He has in abundance; but broken men, hardly at all.

In God's sacred school of submission and brokenness, why are there so few students? Because all who are in this school must suffer pain. And as you might guess, it is often the unbroken ruler (whom God soveriegnly picks) who meats out the pain. David was once a student in this school, and Saul was God's chosen way to crush David.

"You underestimate your adversary," retorted Abishai.

"You underestimate my God," replied David serenely.

"But why, David? Why not fight?"

"It is better I be defeated, even killed, than to learn the ways of . . . of a Saul, or the ways of an Absalom. The kingdom is not that valuable. Let him have it, if that be the Lord's will. I repeat: I shall not learn the ways of either Sauls or Absaloms."

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The Disciple-Making Pastor - Book Review


Bill Hull

A philosophy through implementation plan for creating a disciple-centered training in the church. Based heavily on Jesus' training of the disciples, Bill Hull lays out a picture of a church that shows, teaches, walks with, leads, and unleashes disciples to the world. The solution to the churches problems, he says, is in discipleship. His plan is seemingly very elaborate. It involves heavy training and testing and guidance, but the end result is willing ministers to decentralize the ministry of the pastor. In other words, the Pastor is freed from the day-to-day ministry time-killers, and other people in the church are able to use their gifts to the fullest. The result is minister-members and a Pastor-coach to lead them. Bill Hull gives some great development of the Pastor as coach concept. He lays out the pastoral responsibility as a encourager, motivator, confronter, even a participator, but not the only player. Great. Long chapters make this one a little slow getting through, but the first 8 chapters are packed with solid stuff. Skip 9...It is not worth it. I promise.

I liked this one. Ever since my leadership training and discipleship group at Northland the last two summers, I have been burdened for this kind of discipleship--One-on-one and small group training to impress the burdens and heart of a ministry on other eager disciples. This book lays out why discipleship-centered ministry is so important, who is to be involved, what difficulties you will face in implementing it, when to start, and how to go about laying it out. I think Hull's strongest sections are the first four. The implementation of it is a little weak. He describes the end result merely as training a disciple to go out and join a rec league and help out at the rescue mission. That's great, but I see a disciple as one who takes up discipling others…evangelizing and discipling.

Bill Hull's ministry experience shines a little to glaringly at a couple of points as he rants on about church's inability to change, petty arguing, and other pad church problems.

All in all, a solid foundation for starting this type of ministry in a church. Good philosophy, good tips . . . Not perfect, but I guess it drives you back to the True Discipler . . . our Savior. Worth the cost for the thoughts it provokes, and for bringing the importance of disciple-making back to the forefront of our ministry.

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April 24, 2005

The Treasure Principle


Randy Alcorn

A gift book on a call to live The Treasure Principle,which says, “You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” This book contains 93 pages of a full exposition and application of Jesus' teaching on giving from Matthew 6:20-21. “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Alcorn takes six principles and lays them out. This book is peppered with hard-hitting passages of scripture. You will be hard pressed to find a page without a reference or scriptural phrase tied in. Great illustrations of others joy in giving color the message of the book. The idea is to say at the end, “I really want to live this kind of life!”

Praise the Lord for Randy Alcorn. This little book has been sitting hard on my heart ever since I started reading it. Beth and I have been looking at houses, and these questions have been hitting us pretty often recenty...What kind of house? How much? How big? How new? How flashy? Etc. Oh, how I've been influenced by the American culture. Whether I say it or not, my thoughts are, what will others think? Will I have enough? It makes me sick to think that I would even think of hording the blessings God has been entrusted to me in the names of my comfort, security, ease or peace. Ouch. God has really blessed us. I have been reaching the conclusion that I cannot stretch myself financially to buy myself comfort. My stretching must only come when I am comforting the nations for the gospel's sake. Alcorn laid that out when he mentioned 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 and the 6th treasure principle, “God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”

Needless to say, this book has been a life-changer in the area of my finances. God used much of this book to work me over about what I value in this life and what I value in the next. Because as treasure principle #3 says, “Heaven, not earth is my home.”

Matthew 13:44
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

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April 14, 2005

Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry


Doug Fields | bio | site | book site

As the title suggests, this book is a how to guide for the new youth minister. It lays out the difficulties and struggles that you may face and how you should deal with them. Everything from how to deal with discouragement to building effective relationships, and from dealing with parents to leading a team. The author, Doug Feilds is a 25 year veteran of youth ministry. He has been through a lot, and he shares personal examples tendered with encouragement and advice from his heart for the "rookie" youth minsiter.

Fluffy. I kinda expected that coming into this book. It is written by Rick Warren's Youth Pastor after all. So, yes, true to line, this one was fluff. I felt the book gave me great practical advice for how to deal with the emotional difficulties of staff, parent, and personal conflict, but not much beyond that. The book spent more time on how to make yourself feel good, than connecting with the Savior. I didn't hate the book, by any means. The personal examples and illustrations were perfect. Doug really opened up and shared some failures and mishaps. Hilarious, but also encouraging. I mean, if Rick Warren's Youth Pastor did that, I don't feel so bad. Hah. Overall, I really enjoyed the read. But it is much more practical, than passionate spiritual.

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February 15, 2005

Stop Dating the Church


Joshua Harris | bio | site | free book for your pastor

This book gives a fresh call to the world to become radical church-livers. It screams at you from the first page to commit to your church...because that is what God has for you. As you dig into this powerful book, Josh lays out strong practical applications based solely on great insight into the Word. I loved the foundational exposition of Ephesians 5; it was gorgeous picture of our Christ's view of the church. Josh Harris finds a kind, direct way to say that we are wasting our lives if we are not plugged into the local body of Christ. One quote by Mark Dever, Pastor of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. said, "If you are not a member of the church you regularly attend, you may well be going to hell...I don't mean for a second, that you literally have to have your name on a membership card in a church somewhere to go to heaven...[but] in the New Testament it seems that the local church is there to verify or falsify our claims to be Christians." (55) The emphasis on the living moving Body of Christ is so refreshing. Josh lays out beatuifully and clearly what God expects of a believer when it comes to His Church-Sunday is not just any other day. It is the special day. The day when we can meet our God.

A great read. This book organized and fleshed out some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head recently. I was energized to hear Josh say that we must fall in love with our church. He gave practical steps to finding the right kind of church, and what to do if you can't find one. The blessings to me came when He described what a Sunday is and should be like in my life. The scripture this book cited was powerful in moving me to realize that I need to plan ahead for my times of worship.

"Who can ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who hoes not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will recieve blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Saviour. Psalm 24:3-5

excerpt from the book:

Every Sunday, the One who sought us and saved us from our sin extends an invitation to draw near to Him together through the work of His Son. He invites us to recapture the passion of Psalm 122:1 which says, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord!'"

This Sunday, millions of Christians around the world will gather in the open air, in mud huts, in rented theaters, in homes, in elementary schools, in multimillion-dollar facilities. But the places we gather are of little consequence. What matter is the One we have come to worship and enjoy. What matters is that we will be together, with Him, on His day.

- - I hope you'll be there, too . . . with all your heart.

Josh Harris

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January 31, 2005

Christ Our Mediator


C. J. Mahaney

A study on the various aspects of the Passion of our Savior. This book diagrams beautifully the emotion, love, sacrifice, and majesty of my wonderful Lord. I watched as C.J. Presented the cross as a personal act of love for me. The main thrust behind this book is that “before we can see the cross as something done for us, we must see it as something done by us.” - John Stott. What a concept. My Christ, as a gift from my God, sacrificed that I might have a relationship with Him. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

Wow. I finished this book a couple of days ago, and its message has been stewing in my heart ever since. Oh, what a book. I was awakened again spiritually to the importance of my knowledge, understanding and thoughts on the cross. It is my everything in this life. I saw afresh the sacrifice of a kill His son. I hurt for my God as he peered into the Cup of suffering. I was humbled as I saw myself as one of the faces in the crowd that jeered “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And I was encouraged to find my joy only in the cross. Praise God for showing me these things. I count this book and C.J.'s other book The Cross Centered Life as one of my top 10 heart burners. It was worship to see my Savior unfolded for me.

O help me to understand it,
help me to take it in--
what it meant to Thee, the Holy One,
to bear away my sin.

Katherine A. M. Kelly

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January 18, 2005

Can God Bless America?


John MacArthur

The Gospel is the only solution to the world's problems. If America wants to succeed as a nation, or allow God to bless America, they must humble themselves, and come to God on His terms. Moralism will not solve our problems, political unity will not solve our problems, only the proper response to the gospel of Christ will put us in the reception of God blessing America.

Overall, a quick easy read. Those little gift books are always fun to finish. Hah. I'm not too into politics, or the reform of American idealism, but I found Macarthur's exposition of key passages fresh and practical. Some good preaching in these pages. He brought good national application to some hard-hitting passages.

Posted by jonkopp at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2005

Money Matters for Newlyweds


Larry Burkett

Small gift book with questions and answers directed at problems and hints to the first years of marriage financially.

A good read. Reminders for budgeting, savings, insurance, etc. Formatted in question and answer format, and Burkett's advice is normally gold. This was no exception.

Posted by jonkopp at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2005

The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God


John Piper

Coffee table book that packs a punch. A Narrative Poem of the emotions, themes, and lives portrayed in the book of Job. Beautiful corresponding photography by Ric Ergenbright.

I love Piper's Narrative poems. So rich and worshipful. In a gorgeous few lines, he transports the reader to the time of Job, his wife, and his friends. You find yourself seeing very clearly the scriptures, and you get a strong communication of the theology of the trials that Job faced. For my favorite line from the book, click here. No man is poor nor much enticed, who loses everything but Christ. Aah. How powerful. I wish I could live that.

Posted by jonkopp at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2005

Life as a Vapor


John Piper

31 daily readings to hit you hard over the head about living for another day. Each day ends with a prayer of application consecration. Great chapters include, “Taking the swagger out of Christian influence,” “The Fierce Fruit of Self-Control,” and “Why Satan is Left on Earth.”

I read this book for a heart-warmer in my devotions, and I was never disappointed. Cutting my soul quick and deep, Piper hit me over the head with quick convicting snippets of truth. I loved his succinct proclamation of action according to the Word. A great sequel to Pierced by the Word, which I have found myself going back to time and time again. Oh what a blessing.

Posted by jonkopp at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2004

More Like the Master


Randy Jaeggli

Devotional study of the attributes of God as displayed in the Old Testament. Beautifully exegeted passages that demand application to your soul.

A life changer for me. Dr. Jaeggli's class at Bob Jones University, The Prophets, and this book have awakened my soul to a love for Old Testament study. I found this book to be rich in magnifying my God...than to look in the last chapter and find that my Savior is all these qualities granted me amazing times of worship. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is practical, deep, and easy to read. I wish there was more of this one.

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