Bookmarks 4/23/14

Bookmarks: Relevant Links for Kingdom WomenQuote of the Week:

“This infiniteness of grace, in respect of its spring and fountain, will answer all objections that might hinder our souls from drawing nigh to communion with him, and from a free embracing of him. Will not this suit us in all our distresses? What is our finite guilt before it? Show me the sinner that can spread his iniquities to the dimensions (if I may say) of [Christ's] grace. Here is mercy enough for the greatest, the oldest, the most stubborn transgressor…” -John Owen, Communion with the Triune God

Links of the Week:

Call Her Blessed and Pink Peonies: My friend Ruth Simons has created this beautiful print just in time for Mother’s Day based on Proverbs 31:28. Isn’t it lovely? Be sure to check out all of her incredible art while you visit her shoppe and imagine how she creates such beauties in the midst of raising and homeschooling six boys. :)

When a Friend is Hurting: Christina Fox shares some simple and yet important ways you can serve a friend who is walking through times of suffering.

Thinking on Today’s Manna: Wendy Alsup encourages us to set our minds on the good things God gives and does in the midst of living in a crooked and perverse world which is filled with pain and suffering.

3 Things Pastors (and Their Wives) Should Say More Often: Megan Hill writes about the blessing the church is to ministry families and encourages pastors and pastor’s wives to stop complaining about the weight of their calling.

Book Review: True Beauty

True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole WhitacreI’ve been very excited to share with you about a new book by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre called True BeautyThis book tackles the extremely relevant topic of biblically defined beauty. I truly enjoyed this book and feel that it is so important for us as women to have a theologically grounded view of beauty as we walk through a culture that is inundated with false and deceptive portrayals of the real thing. My full review of True Beauty is included in Credo Magazine’s latest issue, “Churchy Gimmicks,” on pages 80-82.

Here are some quotes from my review:

“The pursuit of beauty, the authors say, must really begin as a pursuit of God who ‘is the ultimate, unchanging, eternal standard of beauty. He is the Author, Creator, and Bestower of beauty. His beauty transcends time and culture. It never changes and never fades. In order to know what true beauty is, we must see God.’ 

For this reason, we should not spurn beauty or our innate desire as God’s image-bearers to be beautiful. But rather, our pursuit of beauty must be founded on an obsession with the one who is truly and perfectly beautiful. An obsession with him, will transform our personal pursuit of beauty. As Mahaney and Whitacre declare: ‘True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God.’”

“One of the greatest strengths of True Beauty, in my opinion, was found in the second to last chapter which dealt with trusting the Lord. In a culture inundated with false ideals of beauty, many women struggle with the fear that God’s standard of beauty isn’t truly enough. We know that living in the real world means dealing with the sin in and around us. For instance, many women struggle with the fear of their husbands comparing them to the half-naked fashion models in commercials, movies, and on billboards. They struggle will feeling truly beautiful, when they know that their husbands are continually inundated with unrealistic images of worldly beauty. But this, Mahaney and Whitacre stress, is forgetting that God is living and active in our lives and in our husband’s lives. This type of fear reveals that we do not truly trust the Lord to guard our husband’s minds and progressively sanctify them just as the he is sanctifying us.”

You can read my full review in the issue of Credo Magazine below (pg. 80-82) or by following this link to Credo’s Blog.

True Beauty Giveaway

Enter to win one of two copies of True Beauty by filling out the form below! This giveaway will end Sunday, April 27th 2014. You must be a U.S. or Canadian resident to participate. Thank you Crossway Books for providing these two copies of True Beauty for the readers of Desiring Virtue.

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Easter Basket Recommendations (2014)

It is finally beginning to feel like Spring and not a moment too soon! Easter is right around the corner and with it all of the fun festivities that go into celebrating our Savior’s victorious resurrection. Each year, I enjoy finding special items to fill my boys’ Easter baskets with that will point them to the Lord of Life! Last year, I shared a small list of items that I would recommend to other moms who may be looking to do the same, so I thought I would carry on the tradition this year by pointing you to some great new music that will go perfectly alongside some candy filled eggs!

A Lullaby Journey Through the Life of Jesus

(Hidden in My Heart, Volume 3)

Hidden In My Heart Volume 3

These lullaby albums are so well done. The music is beautiful and the quality of production is phenomenal. Each song is taken directly from scripture–this particular volume focusing on the life of Jesus. Volume 3 is also on sale on Amazon from now until Easter, so it is the perfect time to purchase one!

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This

(Rain for Roots, Volume 2)

Rain for Roots Volume 2Rain for Roots has recently released a new volume entitled “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This.” It is filled with beautiful songs taken from the parables of Jesus. The first volume from Rain for Roots is a family favorite, so I look forward to enjoying this one as well! The physical CD is not available on Amazon yet, but is available on their site.

Have you come across any books or CD’s recently that would be great Christ-centered Easter basket additions? Share your finds in the comments! Also, be sure to check out Melissa Deming’s recommendations over at Hive Resources as well as these great book recommendations from Emily at Redeemed Reader!

Also, be sure to check out these fun Easter egg printouts to point your kids to the sweetness of our Savior while they gobble up their yummy candy!

Do You Possess Eternal Life?

Do You Possess Eternal Life?

Eternal life. Isn’t this something that every person longs for? Perhaps one of man’s most pressing question is, “What will happen to me when this earthly body turns to dust?” Many people spend their whole lives fearfully wondering whether they will go on living forever or simply cease to exist once they shut their eyes upon this earth for the last time. If given the opportunity to ask God one question, surely every man would find himself uttering the same words the rich young ruler put before Christ, “What must I do to have eternal life?” Surely man would do anything to live forever and never face ultimate death.

One problem we face in this quest for eternal life is a proper understanding of the nature of the human soul. Most people are unaware of the Biblical truth that their souls are inherently eternal. Each of us in one sense already possesses “eternal life,” we will all go on existing for eternity. Therefore, the true dilemma we face as eternal beings is how we will spend that eternity.  Listen to the Baptist Confession of Faith speak of the resurrection:

The bodies of men after death return to dust, and undergo corruption, but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God Who gave them. The souls of the righteous are then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise where they are with Christ, and look upon the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies. The souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torment and under darkness, reserved to the judgement of the great day. The Scripture acknowledges no other place than these two for souls separated from their bodies.

Jesus described these two destinations of men’s souls when he warned that the wicked, ”will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46 ESV) Here, “eternal life” is set at odds with “eternal punishment.” Both are eternal, but eternal punishment can’t really be described as life, can it?

John MacArthur has said, “…eternal life is not just a length of life but being alive to God.” This is why we can say that any person who places their trust in Jesus’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins has gained eternal life. They have become alive to God and no longer live under the threat of God’s punishment for their sin. They are now cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and able to have full, unhindered communion with the Father–our holy and immortal God!

This is the second problem we face as humans who desperately seek eternal life: though we would do anything to gain it, there is absolutely nothing we can do to achieve it. There is only one human who has ever deserved eternal life and he was also God. It is only through a substitutionary work of God that we can gain eternal life.

Let’s take a look in the book of Romans where Paul uses the terms “death” and “life” interchangeably with the concepts of  ”trespasses” (sins) and “righteousness” respectively:

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:18-19 ESV)

What is the difference between these two groups of people? Those who are under condemnation (which is initially all of us!) and destined to eternal punishment are those who have not been made righteous by Christ’s sacrificial death. Their sins have not been payed for and his righteousness has not been imputed to them. Those who are justified and given the gift of eternal life are those who have received the grace of God. The only reason they are allowed to experience the eternal life is because of Christ’s perfect and sinless life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection! After all, each of us were dead in our trespasses and sins, but have now been made alive together with Christ. (Ephesians 2)

And so, while eternal life does, in a sense, refer to unending life, it also refers to much more. When we contemplate the gift of eternal life, we should not only thank God for the fact that we will never die, but for the reality of our eternal, intimate relationship with him. We who were once far off have not been brought near to the sovereign God of the Universe. We who were once his enemies are now his children. We who were under the condemnation of God are now under his banner of love. This is eternal life. This is life.

Don’t forget the extreme grace that you have been shown through the cross of Christ. In love, God sent his Son to die for your sins, so that you could experience this life. What can we do but consecrate these blood-bought lives to our God? What can we do but draw near to the one who has made himself available to us? What can we do but love him?

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:1-5 ESV)

Book Review: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria FurmanA wonderful thing is happening in the Christian publishing world: books are once again being written for women and by women that don’t revolve exclusively around Proverbs 31 and Titus 2! These books are challenging women to step out of their circumstances, behold the beauty of God and his gospel, and then bring that new vision back into their everyday lives.

These gospel-filled books are desperately needed by every woman regardless of her stage of life, but perhaps those who are moms of little ones need this dose of sanity just a smidgen more feverishly than others. Books that give them a theological framework to view their chaotic, non-stop, and and often exhausting calling can feel as good as a full eight hours of sleep when your baby is still nursing through the night does.

One author who has shown herself to be both theologically astute as well as hilariously practical is my friend Gloria Furman. Her first book, Glimpses of Grace, took readers on a quest to understand how the gospel impacts and compels thoughtful homemaking. In this book, Gloria, focuses her gaze squarely on motherhood and the difficult realities mothers face. Topics like the temporal nature of motherhood, the temptation to compare your  mothering “achievements” against other moms’, and the common overall feelings of overwhelmeded-ness (It’s a mommy word, trust me) are explored from an eternal lens.

The beauty of Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full is that while it is written for mothers, it isn’t about mothers. It seeks to elevate a woman’s gaze from the exhausting here and now to a place of awe as she breaths in the life-giving air of the gospel and drinks the pure water of the Word. While its focus is motherhood, its message is Christ. If your looking for a book of coping techniques to get you through until bedtime, then you will be disappointed. If, however, you have come to the realization that there are not enough coping techniques in the world to make you a better mom, then you will be relieved to read this down-to-earth, but theologically robust work on motherhood and the gospel.

The book itself is made up of 11 short devotionals, reminiscent of similar works by Rachel Jankovic (another author I am very fond of), but still unique in its laser-like focus on the gospel and eternity.  Once again, Gloria proves herself to be a faithful handler of the Word of God as well as a wise counselor to mothers in similar life circumstances who are in need of a spiritual reality check.

I heartily recommend you pick up a copy of Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full to read when those beautiful moments of solitude arise (seriously, if you have to, keep a copy in your restroom!) or give it as a gift to a young mom you know needs help directing her gaze toward Heaven (which is all of us by the way!).

“Jesus died on the cross so that we would have the free, unmerited grace of God. And as we appropriate that grace in our lives and serve others, we are serving in the strength God supplies. This is how we can serve so that God gets the glory–through his strength because of his grace shown to us in Jesus… Even as we are trembling and trusting in the Lord, God makes us worthy of his calling and fulfills every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power…” (Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full)

Thanks to the generosity of Crossway, I have two copies to give away to the readers of Desiring Virtue! Enter your name into the drawing by filling out the form below. (Giveaway is limited to U.S. residents and will end April 6th at 12:00 a.m.)

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