Daily Excerpt taken from Pornography: Fighting for Purity by Deepak Reju

DAY 3

Walking by the Spirit

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Gal. 5:25)

Who is in charge of your life? Are you following the desires of your flesh and the pressures of this world? Or are you being led by the Spirit?

Living by faith through the Spirit and putting your sin to death are two sides of the same coin. But one drives the other. As you live according to the Spirit’s strength and direction, God gives you the power to put to death the sinful desires of your flesh.

When you were born again, the Holy Spirit took up residence in you. He gives you life. So we “live by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).

Since we live by the Spirit, we need to follow his lead. Walking by the Spirit, as the verse goes on to instruct us, pictures walking in a row or marching in a line. Think about a soldier marching in step as his sergeant barks out orders. The cadence of the sergeant’s orders bellow out (“Step . . . step . . . step . . . step . . . step . . . step”), and the soldier’s every step is in accordance with his directions. The soldier stays in the formation, and all he needs to do is obey the sergeant’s instructions. The NIV appropriately translates this as “Let us keep in step with the Spirit.”*1 The Spirit leads, and all you need to do is follow his lead.

But you don’t do this by yourself. The apostle Paul is not barking out orders to you while watching from a safe, smug distance. He is marching in the same formation. Paul says, “Let us walk by the Spirit.” He includes himself. You’re not alone. In fact, in this line is a host of other believers fighting the same battle and marching in step with you.

We can walk in obedience if we let the Spirit lead. Do you believe that that’s true? Or have you given in to your sinful nature so often that you’ve given up hope? Consistent victory over the flesh is possible, but it comes only from the Spirit’s lead. “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

Who is setting the agenda for your life—your sinful flesh, or the Spirit? Be honest. When you wake up in the morning, how self-reliant are you? Do you walk into the day with your game plan, your desires, your dreams, your goals, your expectations, and your schemes charting the course? Or do you turn to God and say, “Lord God, I need your help”; “Holy Spirit, come and lead the way”; “I can’t do this on my own—only you can”? When’s the last time these phrases came out of your mouth? Do you pray these kinds of prayers in humility, pleading for the Spirit to direct your life?

Don’t wait any longer. Give up your own schemes and follow the Spirit’s lead in your life. You can’t defeat this problem through your own power; it can only be done through the Holy Spirit’s strength.


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Pornography

Fighting for Purity

Deepak Reju


*1. Other translations of this verse include “If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit” (HCSB) and “Let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit” (VOICE).


 

Author Interview with Richard Gamble

This week’s author interview is with Richard Gamble. He is the author of The Whole Counsel of God, Volume 1: God’s Mighty Acts in the Old Testament and The Whole Counsel of God, Volume 2: The Full Revelation of God.

Westminster Bookstore is selling the two volume set for 50% off: HERE.

  

  • Question #1—Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, family, job, personal interests, unique hobbies, what you do in your spare time, etc.

I come from Pittsburgh, PA. After college and Seminary in western PA my wife and I travelled to Switzerland where she studied music and I worked on my PhD in Church History and Historical Theology. From there I began teaching at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia then taught at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, then Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. In 2005 we moved back to Pittsburgh where I have been teaching Systematic Theology. We have been married for over 40 years, have five grown daughters and four grandchildren.

 

  • Question #2 — When did you first want to write a book?

I have been writing since I was a teenager. While at Seminary I knew that I wanted to earn a doctorate and write a dissertation. My dissertation on Augustine’s Trinity teaching became my first book.

 

  • Question #3 — Which writers inspire you?

British authors, in general, inspire me. They have a way with words that oftentimes transcend American writers.

 

  • Question #4 — Have you always enjoyed writing?

College or seminary professors have got to enjoy writing lectures or they would need to find another field of work. But writing is truly a lot of work. While I enjoy doing research and tracking down smaller theological details, editing for publication does not come easily for me.

 

  • Question #5 — What inspired you to write these books?

The background for The Whole Counsel of God volumes goes back to the 1980’s. The seminary where I was teaching was embroiled in controversy that involved the relationship between exegesis, historical theology, and systematic theology. It was out of that defining time that I saw a need to work on a systematic theology that was deeply informed by biblical theology.


 

BOOK HIGHLIGHT — Damsels in Distress: Biblical Solutions for Problems Women Face by Martha Peace

Damsels in Distress: Biblical Solutions for Problems Women Face by Martha Peace

192 pages | $13.99 | Paperback

About

It’s not always easy being a woman.

Amid tangled relationships, hurt feelings, and hormones, we might wonder sometimes if men have it easier. Add on to that a culture that tells us to be flirtatious, shameless, and powerful. What’s a woman to do?

Covering issues from gossip and feminism to PMS and legalism, biblical counselor Martha Peace, best-selling author of The Excellent Wife, offers insight on problems women face—problems with others, ourselves, and the world. Mining the truths of Scripture, she helps us find peace in our chaos and embrace our Creator’s beautiful design for us.

Whether you are single or married, you will benefit from these practical solutions, ideal for personal reading or group study.

Endorsements

“Several years ago I was introduced to Martha Peace through her book The Excellent Wife. I remember then saying, ‘This is the best book I’ve ever read on the topic of the wife. Martha deals with real issues that wives face and offers real biblical solutions.’ Damsels in Distress is also a book about real problems with real biblical solutions. This is a must for women who are struggling with deep-rooted sin and for women who desire to help other women to live victoriously in Christ Jesus.”

—Susan J. Heck, Author, With the Master in the School of Tested Faith

Damsels in Distress clearly reveals God’s principles for dealing with the common problems women face—first with others, then with themselves. Through its pages you will be stimulated to honestly analyze the problems through the grid of Scripture and then formulate practical applications that bring glory to God.”

—Pat Ennis, Professor, The Master’s College; Author, Precious in His Sight and The Fine Art of Becoming a Godly Woman

“In Damsels in Distress Martha exhorts her readers to an uncompromising standard of personal holiness. The chapters on the interpersonal sins of gossip and manipulation should be especially helpful for women who struggle with temptations to sinful speech.”

—Laura Hendrickson, M.D., Biblical counselor; Co-author, Will Medicine Stop the Pain?

About The Author

Martha Peace is a biblical counselor and conference speaker, as well as a bestselling author. She lives with her husband, Sanford, in Peachtree City, Georgia.


7 Things NOT to Say to Your Friend with Cancer

Guest Post by Author Marissa Henley

Do you ever worry about saying the wrong thing to someone who’s suffering? I do.

I desperately want to say something meaningful, comforting, and helpful. But often those words evade me. I get nervous and chatty, and the next thing I know, I’ve said something I regret.

When I battled a rare cancer several years ago, I watched friends struggle for the right words to say. I felt the sting of the occasional awkward or unhelpful comment. And even though I continue to put my foot in my mouth regularly, I have learned several phrases to avoid when supporting a friend with cancer.

None of us is the perfect friend, and we will all say the wrong thing from time to time. I don’t want this list to cause you more worry, but I hope it will give you some ideas about how to better encourage your friend with your words.

  1. Don’t say, “Let me know how I can help!”

These are often the first words that fly out of our mouths when a friend is hurting. There’s nothing hurtful or inappropriate about this sentiment, but I’d like to suggest an alternative.

Your friend is overwhelmed by her cancer diagnosis and all its life-changing implications. It will be difficult for her to consider her needs, guess what you’re willing to do, and then reach out and ask you for help.

Say this instead: “Can I bring you a meal next Monday?” You’ll better serve your friend if you make a specific offer of help, letting her know a task you can help with or a time you’re available.

 

  1. Don’t say, “How did you find out you had cancer? Did you find a lump?”

I’ve been asked this question many times, and I don’t mind answering it. But when I was sick and someone asked this, what I heard was “Oh my goodness, how could this happen to someone my age?! Please tell me you drank artificial sweeteners all day, were exposed to large doses of radiation as a child, and never did self-exams, so I won’t have to worry about this happening to me.”

This question also came across as curious rather than caring. It didn’t show concern for how I felt right then. Your friend will feel more loved and supported if your concern focuses on how she’s doing now rather than asking her to relive how she got here.

Say this instead: “How are you recovering from your last treatment?”

 

  1. Don’t say, “God will work all of this for good.”

This is true. It’s straight out of the Bible—in fact, it is one of my favorite verses. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV). This verse brings me comfort in difficult circumstances, but it doesn’t promise that I will escape pain, heartbreak, grief, and loss in this life.  

And even though I was comforted by this truth when I had cancer, it didn’t comfort me to hear it from others. The underlying message I heard them saying was “Everything’s going to be fine. Why are you so upset?”

Do this instead: Let your friend know that you’re a safe place for her to share her struggles, fears, and doubts. When you share Scripture, I recommend choosing verses that communicate God’s presence with her and care for her in her suffering.

 

  1. Don’t say, “Are you getting a boob job? I’m so jealous!”

If your friend needs breast reconstruction due to cancer, her experience will be vastly different from elective plastic surgery. Remember, your friend didn’t choose to have this surgery!

No matter how bravely your friend jokes about her visits to the plastic surgeon, please remember that losing one or both breasts is excruciatingly difficult—physically and emotionally. She will probably endure multiple surgeries, and in the end she will look different than she did before cancer. She will need to grieve the loss of her pre-cancer body.

Say this instead: “How are you coping with the changes to your body? How can I support you?”

 

  1. Don’t say, “It’s just hair, and it will grow back, right?”

Watching all the hair on your head fall out is almost as traumatic as being told you have cancer. It starts coming out in fistfuls in the shower; you find giant clumps of hair on your pillow in the morning. You dread the day when you can’t hide the bald spots anymore and will have to shave the sparse remains.

Yes, it’s just hair. And yes, it will grow back. But it will probably take years for your friend to regain her pre-cancer hairstyle. In the meantime, her baldness and short hair will be a constant reminder of all she’s endured.

Say this instead: “How are you feeling about losing your hair? Can I go shopping with you for a wig or some pretty scarves?”

 

  1. Don’t say, “I read this article last night about a new cancer-fighting diet.”

I know you mean well and that you desperately want to find information that will help your friend. But you can rest assured that she has an entire team of doctors and other medical personnel working to heal her. When I had cancer, I had so many doctors I couldn’t even remember all their names. If you add up the years of education and training they had, it was probably more years than I’ve been alive.

You can let her doctors be the doctors, and you can focus on being her friend. Unless she asks for your help, trust your friend to do her own research if she chooses.

Do this instead: Take the time to find out the details of your friend’s medical treatment. Learn the names of her doctors and nurses, pray for wisdom for them, and listen closely when your friend shares updates.

 

  1. Don’t say, “I’m thrilled that this is all over for you!”

When I finished treatment and had no evidence of disease anymore, most people celebrated and assumed I was back to normal. I was immensely grateful to be done with my almost-daily encounters with doctors, needles, and pills, and even more grateful to have survived. But nothing about post-cancer life seemed normal, and I wasn’t sure it ever would be.

Your friend may struggle with fatigue, chemo brain, additional surgeries, and her changed body. She will need months or, more likely, years to process the trauma and implications of her diagnosis. Life after cancer is never the same.

Say this instead: “How is life different now than before you were diagnosed?”  

I hope the next time you see your friend, you will feel equipped to speak words of encouragement and support. If you still feel unsure about what to say, just listen. Your presence with your friend powerfully communicates support even if you don’t say a word.

 

 

Marissa HenleyMarissa Henley, author of Loving Your Friend Through Cancer: Moving Beyond “I’m Sorry” to Meaningful Support , is herself a cancer survivor who writes and speaks about faith, friendship, God’s character, and suffering. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, three children, and one disobedient dog. She would love to connect with you at www.marissahenley.com.

 

50% Off Using Coupon Code PINK

Loving Your Friend through Cancer

In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, we are offering 50% off Marissa Henley’s book Loving Your Friend Through Cancer: Moving Beyond “I’m Sorry” to Meaningful Support.

Use the coupon code PINK at check-out and get this extremely encouraging resource that will help you navigate the difficulties of helping your loved one who is struggling with cancer.

Coupon code is good until October 31, 2018, at midnight.

Daily Excerpt taken from Contentment by Megan Hill

DAY 1

Abundant Life

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. (Prov. 14:30)

I thought that the coat would change everything. Red canvas, with large pockets and a brown corduroy collar, this coat was just what every student in my seventh-grade class wanted. I was absolutely sure that owning this coat would lead me into a new life. When I wore it, I would be popular, beautiful, talented. With a coat like that, people would invite me to take long autumn strolls down New England country roads or to stand, smiling and radiant, in their immaculate horse barns. When I wore it, I would be a different person entirely.

I still have the coat. It hangs in the back of a closet, and I haven’t worn it in the last twenty years. Needless to say, I can’t recall any significant change that happened to me because of the coat. I come across it occasionally, when I am looking for the Christmas decorations or the spare sheets, and I remember how I once thought it would finally give me the life I wanted.

Setting my hope on a piece of clothing seems silly now, but over the years I have nevertheless repeatedly convinced myself that a change in my circumstances would make everything better. I’ve believed that getting married or having a baby or succeeding in my job or moving or mastering a new skill would be the way to a fulfilling life. And, every time, I have been disappointed.

In what seems like upside-down logic, the Scriptures make it clear that a better life consists not in chasing something new but in being contented with the way things are. The way to abundant life, says Proverbs, is a tranquil heart.

If you have picked up this book, it is probably because you are interested in cultivating contentment in your heart. Perhaps you, like me, have already discovered that the perfect coat (or marriage or job or church) will not ultimately satisfy you. Perhaps you have wasted much time looking longingly over your neighbor’s fence, and you sadly know the truth of today’s verse: “envy makes the bones rot.” Perhaps you would like to have a tranquil heart, but you don’t know where to begin.

The good news for each of us is that the Lord provides everything we need for contentment. Christ came to earth, lived a life of perfect obedience, died on the cross, and was raised again so that we might be freed from envy and find satisfaction in him. Moreover, he gives us his indwelling Spirit to warn us against grumbling and to nurture contentment in our hearts as we learn from his Word. By God’s grace, we can have the tranquil heart that yields abundant life. Be encouraged!

Contentment_reflection


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