Morning Mashup 04/24

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place | Andy Crouch



Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture | David Murray



A Legacy of Forgiveness | The Washington Post

Jemar TisbyHe was walking home from an Easter meal on Sunday when a man walked up to Robert Godwin Sr., asked him to say a name and then shot him in the head. To add to the horror, the killer recorded the shooting and uploaded it to Facebook. Thousands of people saw the slaying before it was removed over an hour later.

The family’s grief, particularly that of Godwin’s children, was on display, too. But so was their love. In a baffling demonstration of grace, three of his children publicly forgave their father’s killer the next day.

Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?| Ligonier

Albert Mohler: In a time of cultural conflict, the enemy of our enemy may well be our friend. But, with eternity in view and the gospel at stake, the enemy of our enemy must not be confused to be a friend to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Truthing in Love | GoThereFor

Lionel Windsor: Truthing in love means speaking the gospel, speaking the implications of the gospel, and speaking in a gospel-shaped way within the whole network of loving relationships characterized by God’s love for us in Jesus.

Three Lessons from an Intentional Life | ERLC

Lauren McAfee: I have the privilege of working in the company that grandpa started more than 40 years ago. There are many things I’ve learned from him over the years, but here are three specific lessons I’ve gleaned from his life:

10 Reasons to Be Humble Toward Opponents | TGC

Andrew DavisGod doesn’t will for us to give in for an instant on issues of biblical truth. It’s not humilty but self-serving cowardice that causes us to back down from doctrinal attacks. We must fight like lions for the truth of the gospel—the souls of our hearers are at stake. 

I think it’s unlikely for a work of church revitalization to go on without overcoming significant human opposition. But God commands us to be humble toward our opponents, entrusting ourselves to him. This is among the greatest displays of grace. And it’ll be instrumental in transforming your church.

As personal conduct goes, I believe there are at least 10 reasons we should be humble toward our opponents.



Morning Mashup 06/09


A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.



Pastoral Ministry is About Souls, Not Stats | Jared Wilson

The way we are typically programmed to measure the success of our ministries sets us up for hollow victory and desperate failure. But this is not to say we should never do any measuring. It is only to say that what we measure and how we measure shows where our confidence lies.

Parents, Tell Your Kids They Are Sinners | Mike McGarry

As we talked about his sin, I reminded him of the gospel. God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross so we could be forgiven of our sin. Because we’re forgiven, we should live differently—not for his acceptance, but from his acceptance. We say no to ourselves and yes to God because he loves us and is making us more like himself. And when we look like Christ, the world sees a glimpse of the greatness of God. If I refuse to tell my kids they’re sinners, I’m forfeiting a chance to communicate gospel grace.

Is Religious Freedom for Non-Christians Too? | Russell Moore

Religious liberty is never an excuse for violence and crime, nor has religious liberty been so construed in American history. The United States government should fight, and fight hard, against radical Islamic jihadism. But the government should not penalize law-abiding people, especially those who are American citizens, simply for holding their religious convictions, however consistent or inconsistent, true or false, those convictions are.

About Those “20 Minutes of Action” | Ann Voskamp

Rape is not “20 minutes of action” — it’s a violent act with lifetime consequences and it’s time for parents to take far less than 20 minutes of action and stand up right now and say hard things to our sons right now before it’s too late.

 Why Are So Many Christians Bored With the Bible? | Marshall Segal

Unfortunately, many Christians love the idea of the Bible, but not really the Bible itself. We love having a Bible close by, even within reach, but don’t make time to open it on an average day. We talk about Bible reading like we talk about cutting calories or cleaning our house. We’re grateful for the results, but we don’t wake up dying to do it again. It sounds like a fine thing to do, until we have to choose what we won’t do in order to make time for it.


So They Did: The Heart of True Obedience

pexels-photo-30860.jpgWhat would you say is a good definition for true obedience? To put it simply, true obedience involves hearing and doing. When someone in authority over you tells you to do something, obedience is the act of hearing exactly what you are told and doing exactly what you are told. True obedience involves immediate positive response to the commands of the one in charge. So, if a dad tells his son to stop playing basketball and put the ball in the garage, but the boy puts the ball beside the mailbox, did he truly obey his father? If your boss tells you to have a project completed by Tuesday, but you decide to just finish it Monday morning, have you obeyed?

Why is it so easy to disobey? In fact, I would argue that nothing comes easier than disobedience. Disobedience says, “My way is better than your way. I know best; you don’t.” But ultimately, disobedience says, “I don’t trust you.” Disobedience flows from a heart that doesn’t trust God to satisfy. We love to jokingly mock Adam, Eve, and the people of Israel for their disobedience. We shake our heads at their stubbornness and facetiously ask, “How could they possibly disobey a God who was present with them, who had given them a purpose, and who had promised them a paradise?”

We know how it is possible. Sin reaches down into the deepest caverns of our hearts and corrupts us from the inside out–so much so that the eyes of our hearts begin to delight in the very things that will ultimately kill us. Our disobedience flows from our distrust, which is evidence of our distaste for God.

Throughout Exodus, the people of Israel have given us examples of how not to follow the Lord. At times they followed the Lord begrudgingly, meaning, they followed God, but really preferred to be doing something else, like live in slavery. At other times, they only followed the Lord for what he could give them, like food and water. And over and over again, we see how the Israelites fail to keep the covenant they made with God. They fail to obey all that he has commanded. To be sure, most of the time, the Israelites are scoundrels who seem to be trying their hardest to ruin everything God was giving them. However, in Exodus 39, we have an example of true obedience from the people of Israel. We have an example of a people who truly trusted their God to satisfy them.

Do you remember Exodus 28 and the instructions God gave his people for how to make the clothes the priests would wear in the tabernacle? Well, Exodus 39 explains what the Israelites did in crunch time. It’s like their coach has given them a game plan. Now, it was time to execute. The question for the Israelites would be simple: Would they trust and obey the Lord their God? Exodus 39:1-31 give a detailed answer of Yes to that question! A testimony of the Israelites’ obedience is found in verse 32: “Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did.”

Those final three words are massive. “So they did.” They obeyed the Lord in all that he commanded them. True and complete obedience. They didn’t change any of the Lord’s commands. They simply took his instructions and followed them. We run into trouble when we think we know better than God when it comes to how we should live. There may be certain commands from the Lord that we struggle to obey, but that doesn’t remove our responsibility to obey them. True obedience is true trust in action. It is the disposition to trust the Lord’s grace to satisfy us. True obedience is tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, and that following his ways will bring more joy than following our own ways.

Take the example of the Israelites and live your life according to the word of the Lord. May it be said of us, “Everything the Lord commanded, so they did.”

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

25 Quotes from ‘What is Faith?’ by J. Gresham Machen


For over a month now I have been slowly, yet gladly trekking through What is Faith? by the late, great J. Gresham Machen. Machen was probably the foremost Reformed theologian of the early 20th century. He founded Westminster Theological Seminary. He defended the ideals of the Reformation in the heat of the movement of liberal theology in American evangelicalism. And in a very real sense, he defended the gospel against fierce wolves who were attacking the heart of the Christian religion–the cross of Christ. I cannot commend Machen enough to you. I can’t wait to get my hands on everything he wrote. What is Faith? is Machen’s classic work. Throughout the book, Machen describes and defines the nature of saving faith where he deals with all pressing issues relating to faith. What is Faith? gives a gospel-saturated answer to the title question. I leave this book a better communicator of the gospel, but also a more delighted Christian in the God of my salvation.

If my own word of recommendation is not enough to convince you to read Machen, then maybe Machen can draw you in. Although there are literally hundreds of statements in this work worthy of mention, I have captured twenty-five quotes that I hope whets your appetite for Machen.

1. “The Christian has within him a mysterious power of goodness, which is leading him by paths he knows not to an unknown and blessed country.”

2. “The salvation of the Christian is certain because it depends altogether upon God.”

3. “Christ, according to Paul, will do everything or nothing; if righteousness is in slightest measure obtained by our obedience to the law, then Christ died in vain; if we trust in slightest measure in our our own good works, then we have turned away from grace and Christ profiteth us nothing.”

4. “The gospel does not abrogate God’s law, but it makes men love it with all their hearts.”

5. “God’s law brings death because of sin; but God’s Spirit, applying to the soul the redemption offered by Christ, brings life.”

6. “If our being right with God depends upon anything that is in us, we are without hope.”

7. “To say that we are justified by faith is just another way of saying that we are justified not in the slightest measure by ourselves.”

8. “Salvation is as free as the air we breathe; God’s alone the cost, and ours the wondrous gain.”

9. “Men say indeed that they prefer to conceive of God as a Father rather than as a Judge; but why must the choice be made?”

10. “If we are to trust Jesus, we must come to Him personally and individually with some need of the soul which He alone can relieve.”

11. “It is one thing to follow the example of Jesus and quite a different thing to trust Him.”

12. “The greater be our progress in theology, the simpler and more childlike will be our faith.”

13. “True faith in Jesus always will result in action; but faith itself is not doing but receiving.”

14. “We fear God because of our guilt; but we trust Him because of His grace.”

15. “Appeal to God’s act alone can enable us to face every adversary.”

16. “If we possess God, then we can meet with equanimity the loss of all besides.”

17. “The justice of God is everywhere the presupposition of the Saviourhood of Christ.”

18. “Faith, though it is more than assent to a creed, is absolutely impossible without assent to a creed.”

19. “Faith is the acceptance of propositions.”

20. “Far from being contrasted with knowledge, faith is founded upon knowledge.”

21. “Acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, as He is offered to us in the gospel of His redeeming work, is saving faith.”

22. “There is no virtue whatever in ignorance, but much virtue in a knowledge of what God has revealed.”

23. “Certainly, at bottom, faith is in one sense a very simple thing; it simply means that abandoning the vain effort of earning one’s way into God’s presence we accept the gift of salvation which Christ offers so full and free.”

24. “Christ has done nothing for us or He has done everything; to depend even in smallest measure upon our own merit is the very essence of unbelief; we must trust Christ for nothing or we must trust Him for all.”

25. “Our salvation does not depend upon the strength of our faith; saving faith is a channel not a force. If you are once really committed to Christ, then despite your subsequent doubts and fears you are His for ever.”

Mathew Gilbert is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Faith Worth Believing In

Thomas Schreiner once wrote, “The course of history is determined by God; human beings do not ultimately secure the future by their own actions” (The King in His Beauty, 391). It is when the hearts of men and women rebel against this truth that they begin to skew things like faith.

I know of a woman who has been diagnosed with cancer. The church she belongs to assures her that if she would just have enough faith, she would be healed. They tell her that God responds with favor to those of his people who demonstrate faith. And of course they make what seems to be a logical conclusion. The more faith you have, the more favor you will experience.

So, the woman no longer says, “I hope God heals me” or, “I pray God’s will be done for me.” She now says with renewed confidence, “I know God will heal me. The size of my circumstance does not compare to the size of my faith!” She prays incessantly. She reads her Bible three times a day. She attends church regularly. She gives offering weekly. She does all of these things for one purpose: stronger faith so that her circumstance will change.

It seems to be a consensus in much of America, especially in the Bible Belt, that good things will happen if someone just “believes” enough. This is especially true when it comes to forms of suffering. Cancer is a disease that is rampantly destroying life. It does not discriminate against gender, age, race, or social status. It is commonplace for many Christians and churches who encounter cancer to respond with “faith.” They create attitudes like the one in the story above; that adequate faith can somehow trigger or activate God to heal or bless. It is as if God is a power source merely waiting for us to turn on the switch of faith.

It simply is a common misconception that faith can change circumstances. The value of faith is understood as the ability it has to “get” God to do what we want. All is well and good with this philosophy, until reality sets in. When we pray fervently for our loved ones to be healed only to watch helplessly as they deteriorate before our eyes. This kind of prosperity theology that views faith as a kind of light switch will lead to nothing but despair.

In the end of this theology has one of two outcomes. If the premise holds that faith triggers God to act, yet the suffering does not cease, either faith is not strong enough or God is not powerful enough. If bad things happen because our faith is insufficient, then faith is a farce because no one in the history of the world has been immune from bad things. Even worse, if bad things happen because God is insufficient, there is no hope for our suffering and we are lost in its darkness. When hardships like cancer come, we need much more than a “when you wish upon a star” faith. We need deep, true, real, and genuine faith that can see in, through, and beyond our circumstances.

However, what we see in the book of Daniel (and in all of the Bible) is that faith is not interrelated to our circumstances in ways that many modern American Christians think that it is. Faith is not defined in Scripture by circumstances. Biblical faith is defined by the grace of God and expressed in obedience to God. Biblical faith is received from God and produces obedience. Biblical faith’s relationship to circumstances is one of response. Faith is not determined by nor determines circumstances, but instead responds to and shines in circumstances. As preacher and author Bryan Chapell once wrote, “Biblical faith is not confidence in particular outcomes; it is confidence in a sovereign God” (The Gospel According to Daniel, 53).

The book of Daniel teaches us a few aspects of biblical faith. The basis of biblical faith is God’s sovereign grace. The fruit of biblical faith is obedience. These two aspects of biblical faith are seen throughout Daniel.

In Daniel, God’s people exhibit legitimate and sincere faith in God despite their current condition. God’s people are experiencing judgment. They are exiled in Babylon under the rule of an incredibly ruthless leader as a result of breaking covenant stipulations. However, what we see over and over again is the resolve of God’s people to trust God despite their circumstances.

The narrative accounts in Daniel 1, 3, and 6 most clearly demonstrate unrelenting trust and devotion from God’s people as they face persecution and suffering.

Faith Refusing Food

In Daniel 1, four Judean boys are ripped away from their homes, forced to learn a new culture, and stripped of their identities. They are commanded to learn Chaldean customs and to eat the king’s food (1:5). However, they resolved to trust God and obey him by refusing to partake of the diet prescribed by the king. The food may have been sacrificed to idols or it may have been unclean, we simply do not know. We do know that it was defiled (1:8).

Regardless of this dire circumstance, Daniel and his friends trusted God and obeyed his Word. It may have meant losing their lives, but it was this radical and sacrificial faith that marked these boys. And according to Steinmann, this faith that produced the fruit of obedience resulted from God himself. He writes, “Daniel and his friends are able to resist defiling themselves with the king’s food because of God’s strength that is in them” (30).

Faith Refusing to Bow

Daniel 3 gives us the picture of three of these same boys (excluding Daniel) exhibiting similar resolve and similar faith. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego “function as a model for all Israel” as they are tempted to commit idolatry by bowing to a golden image built by Nebuchadnezzar (Steinmann, 388). The faith of these three men is exhibited in their radical devotion to God. Their faith produced the fruit of obedience to the Torah as they refused to worship false gods. What we see in Daniel 3 is three boys trusting the sovereign God with their lives regardless of the outcome. Their circumstance had no bearing on their faith. They responded to their circumstance with faith no matter what would happen.

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Dan. 3:17-18).

The faith exhibited in Daniel is a faith that works. And while faith is seen as a response to God’s grace and goodness, obedience is seen to naturally flow from the spring of faith. As Steinmann notes, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are able to resist Nebuchadnezzar’s order to worship the idol he had erected because God is with them” (30).

Faith Refusing to Compromise

Likewise, in Daniel 6, Daniel himself refuses to stop praying out of uncompromised devotion to God. King Darius was somewhat hoodwinked by his own satraps in establishing a law that forbade worship of anyone or anything except the king for a period of time. This edict presented Daniel with a troubling circumstance. However, he responded with fervent faith in God.

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously (6:10).

Daniel’s circumstance did not determine his faith. He continued his worship “as he had done previously.” However, his faith did not determine his circumstance either. After being caught in the act of defiant worship of God, the satraps brought Daniel’s case before the King. In Daniel 6:16, we see that despite his bold faith in God, “the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!’”

For Daniel, faith expressed itself in works of obedience in refusing to compromise despite his circumstances. And this active faith is the product of God’s grace. Steinmann puts it this way, “Daniel worships God daily without ceasing even under the threat of death, a testimony to the work of God’s Spirit in his life” (30).

The Eternal Value of Biblical Faith

Misunderstandings of faith and its relationship to various circumstances are detrimental to the soul. If we believe that faith determines circumstances we will quickly see how insufficient such a “faith” actually is. However, true biblical faith in the face of any and all circumstances will sustain the soul in the midst of turmoil. Steinmann says of the instances of biblical faith throughout the book of Daniel,

This integrity of faith in the face of persecution is not simply the product of belief in an omnipotent God. Instead, it is the product of faith in a merciful God who will keep his promise to send his Messiah and establish his kingdom. Daniel and his friends can defy errant and arrogant human kings because they are servants of the eternal King, the Son of Man, who establishes his eternal covenant with his people (Steinmann, 31).

The people of God have something much better than a counterfeit faith that functions as a light switch, turning God’s blessings on and off. They have true biblical faith that produces the fruit of obedience regardless of circumstance. When God’s people trust in God in such a way that it overflows in obedience despite suffering and persecution, even unbelievers take notice:

He is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions (6:26-27).

Daniel shows us that biblical faith is a product of the mercy of God which in turn produces the fruit of obedience. This kind of true and lasting biblical faith is sufficient to sustain the woman who suffers from cancer while she may or may not be healed. Her confidence is found in the God who sent his Son to ultimately heal sinners through his death, which inaugurated a kingdom that will never end. The faith that originates with God is the means back into his eternally joyous presence. This kind of faith is worth believing in.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Salvation by Grace Through Faith in Daniel 9

In his work, The Doctrine of Repentance, Puritan Thomas Watson opens with an epistle to the reader in which he writes, “The two great graces essential to a saint in this life are faith and repentance. These are the two wings by which he flies to heaven.”

Daniel shows the place of repentance and faith in relation to salvation in Daniel 9. Indeed, by God’s great grace and mercy, repentance and faith in Christ are the means to eternal soaring.

Daniel 9 is largely a prayer from Daniel on behalf of his people. Based on Daniel’s prayer, the people of Israel rebelled against God and disobeyed him because of a lack of repentance and faith. “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth” (Dan. 9:13).

Repentance and faith, along with a reliance on the truth of God’s word is what leads to obedience. In fact, faith in God’s forgiveness expresses itself in obedience to God. Steinmann writes, “The person who has received God’s forgiveness wants to live the way God’s Word teaches us humans to live. Saving faith in God manifests itself in good works prescribed in the Scriptures” (Daniel, 426).

Obedience to God flows naturally from a heart that repents and trusts Christ. A life that is void of obedience is one that also lacks true repentance and saving faith. So, Daniel cries out what Paul would later declare, that salvation comes by grace through faith, and not by works of the law. And at the same time, this salvation expresses itself in works of obedience. Obedience is the fruit of trust in God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness in Christ. It is never the basis.

In Daniel’s prayer, he admits that Israel had fallen under God’s judgment due to their rejection of God’s mercy and forgiveness. It was a rejection of grace that led to both sin and subsequent judgment.

Daniel then requests God to save his people once again; to forgive his rebellious people for their iniquities (Dan. 9:16). He does this on the basis of the redemptive act of delivering Israel from the hand of Egypt by parting the Red Sea (Dan. 9:15). The act of God in saving Israel from the mightiest army in the world is a perfect example of the way God saves. There is no participation on the part of the people. They do nothing. He does everything. Daniel’s prayer is a demonstration of full reliance on God’s grace and power to forgive. Forgiveness then comes not by the works of Daniel or Israel, but by the grace and will of God.

As Paul would later write to Rome,

What shall we say then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works (Rom. 9:30-32).

Righteousness is credited to sinners by faith in the Christ who became sin for them (2 Cor. 5:21). It is not a product of a life of attempts at obeying God. Obedience doesn’t produce righteousness. Credited righteousness by grace through faith produces obedience.

Daniel teaches us that we fall into sin, rebellion, and disobedience when we fail to repent of our sin, trust God’s forgiveness in Christ, and listen to the word of God (Dan. 9:13). When we pray, we should ask God to save our lost family and friends not because they are worthy and not based on their good deeds or ours, but solely because God’s glory deserves to be praised by all people!

“For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” (Dan. 9:18-19).

Steinmann sums up the matter well:

God hears the repentant sinner’s prayer because of the merit and atonement of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God keeps his promises most vividly in the ministry of Christ, who fulfilled them all (2 Cor. 1:20). God has redeemed his people through the work of Christ. Through faith alone in Christ alone, believers are credited with his own divine righteousness (Ibid., 427).

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Hope and Comfort in the Midst of Persecution

I have recently been considering how I would respond to intense persecution. In light of the rapid change in the shape of American society and culture, and the public’s view of Christianity, it is likely that persecution of Christians in America will increase before it will decrease. What will this look like? I do not know. But it is entirely within the realm of possibility that Christian churches and leaders will face fines, imprisonments, and maybe more in the future. From time to time I ask myself, “Will I be willing to boldly face increasingly harsher persecution?” Or maybe a better question, “Is there any hope and comfort in the present and future for those facing persecution?”

Reflecting on Daniel’s vision of the goat and the ram in Daniel 8, Lutheran scholar Andrew Steinmann states,

The little horn in Daniel 8, representing Antiochus, who would persecute God’s people during the Greek era, is a foretaste of the greater persecution by the little horn in Daniel 7, representing the Antichrist, who wages war against the saints throughout the church age until Christ returns. By demonstrating how God would deliver his people form Antiochus Epiphanes, the vision in Daniel 8 offers hope to Christians throughout the church age, who must face the Antichrist’s persecution and corruption of the Gospel (Daniel, 390).

With all eschatological (end times) prophecies in Scripture come confusion, debate, and disagreement. However, there are two clear and primary things to draw from the visions found in Daniel 7 and 8.

(1) God’s people will face persecution

In Daniel 7-8, there are visions of harsh persecution that will afflict God’s people. There are mild forms of persecution that all of us experience in one way or another. You may be ridiculed for your faith at work. You may be shunned in various ways in your family. However, some Christians abroad face harsher forms of persecution. People are actually put to death for their faith in many countries. Daniel 8 foretells of a figure who would persecute God’s people during the Greek era. Most conservative scholars see this figure as being fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphranes. And this figure prefigures the Antichrist who will come to persecute God’s people until Christ returns. Persecution is clearly part and parcel of the establishing and fulfilling of the eternal kingdom of God.

(2) God is in control of persecution

The theological truths that communicate hope and comfort to those being persecuted in the vision of Daniel 8 appear to be that, although this passage communicates times of persecution and corruption, God is all knowing and in control of all things, including the persecution of his people.

How does the reality of persecution and the sovereignty of God provide comfort to those who are being persecuted?

Specifically regarding comfort and seeing Daniel as a whole, I think its important to look at the overarching themes of Daniel when communicating the truths in Daniel 8 to those in difficult situations. Mainly, we see that no matter what happens, God is in control and ultimately those who who belong to him will persevere. In Daniel this is portrayed in the fiery furnace and the lion’s den, as well as in the various prophecies about coming persecution from antichrist figures. God sovereignly rescued his people from persecution. Another theme of comfort is that God sets and removes rulers and will ultimately dethrone all earthly rulers to rule his eternal kingdom.

Nevertheless, the message of Daniel 8, and all of Scripture for that matter, is to persevere. Those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 24:13). The response of God’s people in the face of persecution must be perseverance. This means that in and through all persecution, we must place our trust and faith in the One who knows all, sees all, and who works all things in his sovereign grace for the good of his people. This sovereign God will one day righteously judge all.

No amount of persecution will stop God’s purposes from coming to pass. God plans all things and he always fulfills what he plans. The persecution led by Antiochus Epiphanes did not prevent the Messiah from coming to redeem humanity. Likewise, the antichrist’s persecution will not be able to stamp out the gospel. His people will persevere through faith. God’s sovereign goodness is our only true hope and comfort in the midst of persecution. Take hope in the fact that God will never leave his people in the midst of the harshest persecution. Take comfort in the fact that God sovereignly works all things, including persecution, for the good of his people and the renown of his name.

In the words of Steinmann, “God’s salvific plans cannot be thwarted” (390).

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Book Review: “The Extravagant Fool” by Kevin Adams

_240_360_Book.1198.coverKevin Adams. The Extravagant Fool: A Faith Journey that Begins Where Common Sense Ends (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014) 218 pp. $15.99
American Dream Gone Wrong

What if you lost all of the material possessions you had worked your entire life to obtain? What if the luxurious lifestyle you lived crumbled around you? What if your faith in God was reduced to the size of your bank account that forced you into near homelessness? Kevin Adams was the epitome of business success. He had seemingly endless clients with a business with more work than he could keep up with. He was a multi-millionaire who owned multiple homes and was truly living the American dream until his exuberant world came crashing down with the economic recession of 2008. At the beginning of 2009, Kevin Adams had lost everything.


The Extravagant Fool is an inspirational story of how one man went from being a worldly fool to a sold-out fool for God. It is a story of God’s provision and how faith in God is more valuable than millions of dollars, multiple homes, and a thriving business. Adams tells his story as a journey from being an ambitious businessman, to a blogger and author seeking to encourage believers and glorify God. Through a beautifully, though sometimes overwhelming, poetic narrative, Adams recounts his journey from casual Christianity to an all-out dependence on God through faith.

With the English Christian leader and founder of countless orphanages, George Mueller, as his example, Adams boldly faced empty bank accounts and no income by relying fully on God’s provision.

Reliance and Intimacy

The greatest strength by far in The Extravagant Fool is the author’s clear and passionate reliance on God. While criticizing all forms of Christian self-help, Adams argues for full reliance on and intimacy with God as the only means worthy and able to get you through the night (95-105). It is clear that Adams was once a Christian who claimed full reliance on God, yet was entirely self-sufficient. However, his financial plunder took him to the depths of his own soul where he found God waiting with a warm embrace. This is especially conveyed in Adams’ discussion of losing the ability to provide for his wife and kids. Many men can testify to the emasculation such a situation brings. However, Adams had an epiphany—one that is crucial to the Christian faith.

After being unable to provide for his family for months and even a couple years, Adams concluded,

“God is weird, but His strange impressions tap at the glass until we’re annoyed enough to look up and begin to truly listen to Him. The counterfeit idea says the dream was just fear over losing my role as provider and protector. But in the context of counting it all joy…was a message that said, ‘Kevin, you were never the provider or protector, so let go already’” (88).

Reflecting on his circumstance to this point, Adams said, “I’d become a man ready to embrace the mystery of my circumstances, but unwilling to let go of everything—a man still white-knuckling his perceived identity, by failing to abdicate his family from a throne meant for a king” (88). Adams clearly relied on God to provide for him and saw each opportunity, whether it be a place to live or a job to work, as a gift from God (182).

Adams also began to see that the more his world eroded around him, his value was found in Christ. He writes, “My value is measured by the price that was paid for me, not by the sweat of my brow or career status—a truth that is easy to say, but hard to accept” (91). This chapter on Adams’ relationship with his wife before and during losing all that he owned is by far the best this book has to offer. His candor and honesty in his journey to accepting biblical truth about him and his circumstance is present on nearly every page and is sobering for the reader.

Theological Concerns

Although The Extravagant Fool is filled with many commendable points, there are a few concerns to keep in mind as you approach this book.

First, there are theological concerns that I would encourage you to approach with caution. Adams seems to communicate faith in God as resulting in material blessing or reward. The more faith Adams exhibits in God, the more God would mysteriously return blessing to his life. Does Adams hold to a Joel Osteen-like prosperity gospel or a Joyce Meyer-like word of faith theology? Or is it an ambiguous rendering of sola fide? He seems to communicate the former in various places:

“The power of God lies not in the size of the seed but in the gigantic potential He’s hidden within it—the Harvard degree in faith that will rise to the top of the industry if we’ll stop attempting to dig our way out and just plant it” (75).

“Daddy, didn’t you say that anything is possible with God if you just believe hard enough?” “Sure, sweet girl. Absolutely” (72, emphasis added).

“My wife and I went to training conferences and were encouraged that our direction was taking a better turn, conferences filled with godly people who believe that abundance is not only okay with God, but his best intention for life on earth—something I wholeheartedly agreed with” (58).

In times of turmoil and suffering, Adams sees God as planning something for his life that can be unleashed by faith, but in the meantime, God “tucks himself just out of sight.” Seeing God’s activity in our suffering like a game of hide-and-seek, Adams says, “We faithfully count with our eyes closed, while He anticipates the ready-or-not moment, only to delight in our search from behind the curtain while his child tiptoes nearby” (76). It appears Adams sees God as drawing intimacy out of us by placing mysteries in our lives. I think Adams interprets God’s relationship with suffering and evil to be one that intends for his children to see a mystery in the suffering and then seek after the answers in him.

However, despite what I see as a forced theological answer to the problem of evil and suffering, I appreciate Adams’ call for intimacy in times when we want to question God. “[G]rowing up means giving logic the cold shoulder and becoming intimate with the One who puts the beans on every table. It requires the willingness of a child and the vision of an adult” (76). Though his theological answers to the relationship between God and suffering is weak, his call to intimacy with God during suffering while honestly seeking answers to difficult questions is spot on.

You will not want to look to Adams for sound theological answers.

A Revelation Problem

Adams believes he receives special revelation from God personally—outside of Scripture. There are many places in the book indicated by italics where Adams recalls God’s special and specific words that he spoke to him either in a dream, prayer, or when he was going about his day. Compare this with the miniscule references to Scripture. This imbalance is alarming and Adam’s expressed theology of revelation and the Bible is flawed.

He also seems to make an unhelpful distinction between God and the Word of God. Adams doesn’t seek, find, or base any answers to his plight in Scripture. Although he makes the claim that the written word of God is “the open door for personal revelation where, for anyone who is willing, God is willing to descend” (142), it seems to me he sees little more value in the Bible. Adams sees the Bible as a means to intimacy with God, but clearly he sees personal revelation as superior (155).

It seems that he desires something more than Scripture. Here are just a few examples of Adams’ preference for personal revelation through dreams and visions over God’s self-revelation in his Word.

“[Dreams] were personal challenges to my faith as delicate as the weight of a fingerprint, yet as powerful as its billion-to-one distinctiveness. And therefore nearly impossible to ignore or rationalize in the way that I’d always done with Scripture” (103).

Adams seems to find most clarity from personal revelation rather than from the Bible. One example of this is when Adams claimed he received special revelation from God in what he called “a note from the King.” After recording that note, Adams commented, “Inspiring, indeed, from His mouth to my ear, yet so lofty a notion that merely reading aloud in solitude inspired my own doubts” (198). For Adams, personal revelation is preferred over God’s revelation in his Word.

There are many places I stand in agreement with Adams, but not in the means to which he came to his conclusions. While he clearly has a desire to be Christ-centered, I would have preferred that he see that this comes by being Bible-centered.

Despite this criticism, there is one section in The Extravagant Fool that, though unbalanced from the rest of the book, is an offering of praise to the Bible. He writes, “[E]very single word, whether in red ink or black, spoken by prophet, king, physician, fisherman, or a collector of taxes, whether from the mouth of Jesus or those inspired by His Spirit, is supernaturally intact…It was either meant for the willing, whether rich or poor, simpleminded or genius, to be trusted completely or not at all” (160).

My question to Adams would then be, “Great! Then why is this not enough?” I am perplexed at his need for further revelation in light of his correct sentiment to trust the Bible “completely or not at all.”

Gospel Absence

Probably the most alarming part of The Extravagant Fool is something that is practically absent—the gospel of Jesus Christ. Granted, Adams mentions the content of the gospel in an email to a tenant who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, calling Jesus “our only hope” (82). However, there is not a gospel-centered framework through which Adams responded to his financial crash. The foolish thing about The Extravagant Fool is that faith is the focus of the book, not Jesus.

Adams speaks of relying on God’s provision and strength in his time of financial desperation, but there are few to no examples of relying on God through Jesus. There is no mention of identification with the suffering of Christ. His story provides ample opportunity to point to the gospel. In fact, I could see great comfort, perhaps the only comfort, coming from the gospel. It is simply alarming that the implications of the cross are absent from this book. I felt the author’s pain while reading, but the comfort he found was not as comforting as I anticipated.

I find little in this book that would help those in similar places of suffering deal with suffering. Adams finds hope in God’s blessing that comes through faith. But as far as dealing with the suffering, Adams failed to communicate if there is any redeeming quality or joy to be found. Ignorance of the gospel and the biblical witness to the glory of God in suffering is a stain on this otherwise inspiring story.

The ultimate question I left this book asking was, “How would an impoverished person feel after reading this book?” Living in poverty, being poor, and not living financially abundant is conveyed as an incredibly negative thing. I may be way off the mark, but at times I felt I was reading a book written by a man influenced by prosperity “gospel” proponents. Adams communicates that God does not want you to suffer and that you can escape it through faith. Are you suffering? Are you poor? Faith leads to blessing. More faith = more blessing. This conclusion and manner of facing suffering is theologically and biblically unhelpful and unwise.

Inspiring Story, Poor Theology

Kevin Adams has a very inspirational story with a few serious deficiencies. Adams hoped his story would “be compelling, real-life evidence that God can be trusted with everything—that He really is that good” (218). He accomplished this goal and there is much to gain from his experience. His journey will cause you to ask the difficult question, “Would I be willing to follow God even if he took away my possessions?” The value of faith is questioned and discovered when adversity strikes. Adams’ intimacy with God is admirable. He made me ask many convicting questions of my own heart.

However, despite some clear strengths, the theological and biblical weaknesses in The Extravagant Fool cause me to encourage you to approach this book with caution. Adams admits he is not a pastor or theologian. However, as a Christian writer, his work must be evaluated against God’s word and proper theology.

As I read this book I was inspired, yet frustrated at the author’s theological errors and preference for personal revelation over the Bible. If you decide to read this great story, read with caution. If you yourself are weak with your theology in the face of suffering, this may not be the best book for you.

Adams is right when he says God wants abundant blessing for you. But this blessing is found ultimately in Christ and may include a life filled with suffering and poverty that does not turn around for earthly gain. Material wealth is a gift from God to be stewarded wisely. There is nothing inherently wrong with having a large income. However, God is glorified in times when God gives and when he takes away (Job 1:21). Adams expresses this and readers will learn from it, yet the theology that grounds it is not strong enough to uphold his claims. Learn from his faith that led to intimacy, but cautiously approach his theological claims.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Radical Faith in the Face of Ruthless Suffering

This semester I am taking a course entitled, “Interpreting Daniel.” It is what you would expect–a verse by verse exegetical examination of the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel is a theologically rich and full book. Truly one semester is not nearly enough time to adequately pursue all of the issues in Daniel.

I wanted to share just one of the many things that have both alarmed and captivated my heart and spurred me to greater faith in Christ. This particular insight came from an unsuspecting place in Daniel.

3Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility,4youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.5The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.6Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah.7And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
8But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.
–Daniel 1:3-8, ESV

Let’s break down what is going on here. The king of Babylon, who had recently conquered Judah and taken its people into exile, ordered Judah’s finest to be specifically brought to him. He clearly has a desire to assert his self-proclaimed glory by showing his dominance reaches to the heights of Judean society.

The king orders for “youths without blemish” from the Judean nobility to come to the king’s palace to be indoctrinated with the “literature and language of the Chaldeans.” They were ordered to eat specific food and drink specific wine, food and wine that came from the king himself. While this on the surface seems like a walk in the park compared to what the word “captivity” typically connotes, the next few verses highlight the sinister intentions of the king and his ruthless brutality. “And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego” (v. 7).

In years past, I would have thought very little about the brutality of this captivity, and surely would have belittled the significance of the name change. However, after further study it is clear that Daniel’s captivity was indeed as bad as one would assume, maybe worse.

Consider what Daniel and his friends likely endured as a result of exile.

1. Daniel and his friends were torn from their families

These young men were specifically chosen from Judah’s finest, and in the process were ripped away from their families. Being taken into captivity was like the Gestapo storming a Jewish home and dragging mother and daughter into one train car while throwing father and son into another.

2. Daniel and his friends were likely castrated.

The fact that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the “chief of the eunuchs” seems to indicate that they themselves had been made eunuchs. It was not uncommon for the king of Babylon to castrate men of conquered nations, so it is likely that Daniel and his friends were castrated when they were taken captive.

3. Daniel and his friends were robbed of their identity

Daniel, Hananiah, and Mishael, and Azariah had names that reflected their faith. Their identity was found in being part of the people of the one true and living God. When the king of Babylon brought Daniel and his friends to his palace, he not only had them trained in Chaldean culture, but he also renamed them, not simply because he didn’t like their names, but as an exercise of theological dominance. He renames these four Judean young men after his gods. He is essentially desiring to wipe out their religious affiliation. He wants their to be no semblance of the God of Judah. The king of Babylon had conquered God’s people and now he wanted to show that he had essentially conquered their God. He had no place in Babylon and the king wanted this name change to reflect what he arrogantly felt was a certain reality.

4. Daniel and his friends were teenagers

The king of Babylon called for those who were “youths without blemish.” Based on the historical context, conservative scholars have placed Daniel’s age at the time of being taken into exile at around 14. Daniel and his friends were barely teenagers when they were taken into Babylonian captivity. This is alarming and disgusting to think of fourteen year-olds suffering such cultural and theological dominance, and physical brutality at the hands of one of the most ruthless men on the face of the earth at the time.

So, to this point we are given a picture of four young teenagers who were torn from their families, castrated, culturally and theologically dominated, robbed of their identity, and treated as property by a ruthless king with uninhibited power. Yet, after all of this, we are told that these young boys were resolved to fully devote themselves to God. They remained faithful in the midst of severe persecution, suffering, and abuse in a place where their God was seemingly dominated by a ruthless human king.

If anyone had a reason to doubt God’s goodness it would have been these teenagers. However, Daniel and his friends clearly trusted the sovereignty and goodness God despite their circumstances. They did not “defile themselves” with the king’s food and drink. Even though they would have reasonably been broken down after what they had been through, they demonstrated strength in weakness that only God can provide.

These boys have taught me that our circumstances do not determine our attitudes toward God. God’s self-revelation determines this. God has declared himself to be good and sovereignly faithful to fulfill all of his promises to his people. We trust this because he has said it is so, not because our circumstances may seem to tell us otherwise.

The fact that Daniel unashamedly and boldly trusted God over and over again throughout Daniel after initially suffering such atrocities is truly amazing. I am amazed at his faith. I am amazed at his resolve. I am amazed at his unhindered trust in God. He did not allow his circumstances to dictate his theology. Instead, his theology rooted him in something much greater than his circumstances.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Faith that Survives: Receive the Implanted Word

How are we to live out our faith in a way that carries significance and meaning? How can we not only hear the word of God, but obey it? How do we go from being mere hearers of the word, to doers of the word?

Many Christians keep something out of their lives that is detrimental to their faith and particularly their daily battle against sin: doctrine. Doctrine is often ignored in the daily life of the Christian and even some churches fail to teach biblical doctrine from the pulpit and in small group settings. What are favored are feel-good messages and ten-step lessons on how to be a better parent. Because of this, the word of God has slowly but surely become scarce in pulpits, Sunday School rooms, and homes.

It is tempting for us to search our own minds and philosophies for answers to how we should live in the world. We desire life change and we think it can be instilled through therapeutic messages and discussions outside of the Bible. In fact, some Christians believe they can know God and carry out his purposes without the Bible. However, James gives us a picture of the new birth, which directly affects the way we live. But he does so by showing the one thing we absolutely need—the reception of the word of God.

Essentially, James argues that a life that hears and obeys the word of God is the life that humbly and gladly receives the word of God, which was implanted at the new birth.

Regeneration is by the Gospel

James writes, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (v. 18). Let’s break this verse down to understand how God regenerates us. We know James is referring to the new birth because of the phrase “brought us forth.” This is creation language. This is language directly related to birth. We know that this is not an original creation or first birth, because of the reference to the redemption of all of creation (“firstfruits of his creatures”).

This is new creation language. Through the work of Christ, God is redeeming his creation beginning with man and including every aspect of creation. This begins with the redemption of man. By his own prerogative, God has “brought us forth”; he has regenerated our dead hearts. He has created in us a new heart of flesh, which replaced an old heart of stone. We also know that James has in mind the new birth because of the means by which it comes. The new birth comes “by the word of truth.” I believe James is referring to the gospel here (Col. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:15). Hearing the gospel is seen as a necessary contingent for the new birth. “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.”

James is not alone in the biblical corpus. Peter also sees the gospel as the means by which the new birth comes. “You have been born again…through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pt. 1:23). It is through and by the word of God (the gospel) that God regenerates us. This is the backdrop for a striking, yet somewhat hidden command in James 1:21.

The Word that is Implanted

James commands something radical in v. 21: “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” This is a very loaded verse with a two-fold command. First, James commands that believers put away or strip away all filthiness (part one) and receive with meekness the implanted word (part two). He then writes that this implanted word, which we are to receive with meekness, is able to save our souls. What does James mean by this?

What is most notable is the fact that James commands something that is not natural to man. The word that we are commanded to receive must be implanted. That tells us that by nature we are dead in our sin. We oppose the word of God, which is by nature foreign to our sinful natures. James is reminding these believers that they once had no love for God’s word and they once had no desire for God’s word.

We were like those who once tried to kill Jesus: “You seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you” (John 8:37). Since the word of Christ found no place in them, it is clear that it had not been implanted. Does this mean that these Jewish leaders did not know the Scripture? Did they not know Moses, David, Solomon, and the prophets? Of course they did! They actually were students and even scholars of the Old Testaments, yet the word of God found no place in them.

So, implantation of the word of God must be more than mere knowledge of the Bible. Before the new birth, the word of God is like a splinter that our heart forces out once it is inside. Unregenerate people have no place for God’s word. They do not need it and they reject its significance, power, and meaning. The reason? It is not implanted in them.

The Gospel Takes Root

James has presented us with a God who is personally and intimately committed to our salvation, to the point that he shaves our hearts of stone into obliteration by the sword of the gospel. James tells us that God causes the new birth by the gospel. Through the gospel our eyes are opened to see the glory of Christ and we are given a taste for Christ that is insatiable. We have a place for the word of God in our hearts, because God sovereignly implants it in our hearts.

There is great assurance to be found here. When we heard the gospel—the account of Jesus’ perfect life, propitiatory death, and powerful resurrection—God actively caused this message (word) to take root in our hearts. This means when we desire, love, and believe this word of God (the gospel), it latches on permanently to our hearts. God implants his word in such a way that it is inseparable from our hearts.

Allow that truth to waft over you for a moment. We are born again by the word of God and the word of God that was implanted stays! It goes nowhere! You can be confident that the message that caused you to see and delight in the person and work of Christ is implanted by God, is going nowhere, and is “able to save your soul.” Oh, how great and powerful is the word of God!

The Power and Significance of the Gospel

Let’s pause for a moment to notice how connected the Spirit of God is with the word of God. There are those Christians who believe that expository preaching and careful study of the Bible is unnecessary for the Christian life. Instead, they argue that we need to “experience” the Spirit of God and rely on the Spirit of God instead of the word of God. This is an unhelpful and detrimental dichotomy. God desires worshipers who worship in Spirit and truth.

The Bible speaks of the Spirit granting the new birth (John 3:3-8; 6:63). When the Spirit is sent, he dwells within believers. When the word of God comes in the gospel, it is implanted in us. This relationship between the Spirit of God and the word of God greatly aids our understanding of the role of the word of God in our lives. The word of God is not mere text or lifeless revelation. It is a living and moving, breathing and working power that is a vehicle for life and a catalyst for faith.


In a world of increasing instability and approval of sin, there are many answers given to how Christians are to live and survive in a culture that is constantly trying to cut them off. Instead of taking in the salt water of moralism, self-helps, and personal philosophies, breathe in the life-giving word of God. Receive the implanted word of God for the sustenance of your faith in a world filled with temptation and sin.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.