Excerpt taken from Fearing Others: Putting God First by Zach Schlegel

Below is an excerpt taken from Fearing Others: Putting God First by Zach Schlegel.


DAY 1

We Obey What We Fear

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” . . . Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” (1 Sam. 15:22, 24)

Saul was Israel’s first king. His inauguration marked a key transition in the nation’s history—even though he was reluctant to accept the responsibility and even tried to hide from it! But God gave Saul his Spirit and promised him everything he needed in order to rule well. All Saul had to do was to fear God and obey his commands. If he did, God promised that “it will be well” (1 Sam. 12:14). Not too far into his rule, God called Saul to war against the Amalekites and told him to destroy everything. But Saul kept the best of the livestock for himself and destroyed only that which was worthless or of poor quality. This partial obedience was disobedience.

Saul’s confession in 1 Samuel 15:24 shows us how the fear of man works. Why did he disobey God? Because he “feared the people and obeyed their voice.” According to the Bible, fear is more than feeling terrified. Our fear of man certainly includes that, but it also means revering people, needing them, or valuing their opinion so much that our decisions end up being controlled by them. We obey what we fear. As a result, our fear of others is a worship issue. Every human heart is always worshipping something; we were made for worship (see Isa. 43:7; John 4:20–24)! The question is, who we are worshipping—God or people?

Sprite’s slogan tells us, “Obey your thirst.” This soft-drink advertisement ends up being pretty theologically accurate. What we value indicates what we fear losing or never achieving. We can’t imagine living without it, so this fear directs our decisions and motivates us to act. Isn’t this what happens when the sports enthusiast prioritizes watching his team above attending church? Don’t we refuse to share the gospel with a friend because we fear how she’ll respond? Aren’t we reluctant to take risks for good things because we can’t bear the thought of being a failure? We thirst for and value something more than God in these moments. We obey what we fear.

 

Excerpt taken from Anger: Calming Your Heart by Robert D. Jones

This excerpt was taken from Anger: Calming Your Heart by Robert D. Jones. It is currently 50% off (only $4.99!) from wtsbooks.com.



DAY 1

You’re Not Alone

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. (1 Cor. 10:13–14)

WE BEGIN OUR thirty-one-day journey with four assurances from God—assurances you need in order to fight against your anger.

1. You will face temptations and trials in this life. People and situations can make life hard and can tempt you toward anger. Don’t be surprised at this—God isn’t. He knows your struggles.

2. Your struggles are not unique. They are common. You are not alone. The path you now walk has on it the footprints of others. Others before you have been tempted to sinful anger. Scripture records scores of such people—some who succeeded and some who failed. Others around you, even brothers and sisters in your church, are tempted right now. More than thirty-five years of counseling have led me to this statistical conclusion: approximately one out of one people struggle with anger.

Moreover, in your struggle with temptation, you have examples not only in people before you and people around you but also in the God-man above you. Jesus was made like us (see Heb. 2:10–18) and was tempted like us (see Heb. 4:15–16) in every way. Your fully human Savior understands your struggles.

3. These temptations will not be too difficult for you to handle. Your faithful God will not let you be tempted beyond your ability to resist. He will not abandon, leave, or forsake you. As Pastor Warren Wiersbe put it, “When God puts His own people into the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much.”*1 Of course, this assumes that you are handling life God’s way—the way that this book will show you.

4. God always provides a “way out” amid these trials. “Good,” you might say; “that’s exactly what I need. I need a way to get out of this bad marriage or hard job or rising debt or chronic pain or . . .” But notice that God does not promise an escape from the temptation. Rather, he promises to enable you to “endure” it.

So what kind of “way out” does God promise? The next verse in today’s passage tells us. God promises to help you avoid idolatry—the sinful ways in which you are tempted to respond to the trial (including, for instance, anger). Apart from the Lord’s help, these temptations and sinful responses can take you down—all the way down to the point of turning away from the Lord. But as you focus on the Lord and handle your pressures his way, you can learn to live out his method of endurance.

*1 Jonathan Leeman, Reverberation: How God’s Word Brings Light, Freedom, and Action to His People (Chicago: Moody, 2011), 19.



 

Mother’s Day Gift Suggestions

P&R has many books for women at all stages of life. Here is a list of a few of our women’s resources, and some that we thought might make good Mother’s Day gifts:

1. Letter to Pastors’ Wives: When Seminary Ends and Ministry Begins edited by Catherine J. Stewart

Pastors’ wives encounter special challenges as well as special joys. These letters from the seasoned wives of seasoned pastors provide empathy, wise counsel, and encouragement on a wide range of topics.

2. For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-Outs by Sara Wallace

Written by a mom on the front lines, For the Love of Discipline takes short chapters to work through typical discipline issues from a gospel perspective. Along the way, Sara offers personal examples, teaches practical strategies, and shows how to pursue “discipline skills” every day. Moms will stop spinning their wheels in quick fixes and behavior management and find renewed strength in God’s own gracious shepherding and love.

3. God’s Mysterious Ways: Embracing God’s Providence in Esther, A Ten-Lesson Bible Study by Jane Roach

Using insightful commentary, application questions, testimonies, and hymns, Jane Roach walks readers through the compelling story of God’s providence in the book of Esther. As you work through this ten-lesson study, you will be prepared to see God’s hand in your own circumstances, to lean on him with wholehearted trust and worship, and to experience a new life of gratitude, peace, and joy.

4. The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family by Martha Peace & Stuart W. Scott 

Parents and children need the help of the One who perfectly understands our need—God himself. Peace and Scott emphasize your family’s most important relationship: its relationship with God.  

5. Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word by Kathleen Buswell Nielson

What is Bible study, anyway? This book highlights not a rigid set of methods, but a clear approach to Bible study that acknowledges Scripture for what it is—the very Word of God.

6. You Never Stop Being a Parent: Thriving in Relationship with Your Adult Children by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jim Newheiser

Are your parenting responsibilities continuing into your children’s adulthood? Here you’ll be grounded in the guidance of God’s Word and reminded that your relationship with your adult children hinges on your relationship with God.

7. Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ by Rondi Lauterbach

Just like your body, your soul needs to be fed—but how do you satisfy it? Rondi Lauterbach shows us how to prepare true nourishment that meets our deepest hunger.

8. Revelation: Let the One Who Is Thirsty Come by Sarah Ivill

Revelation paints a breathtaking picture of the completion of God’s plan of judgment and salvation. Yet its perplexing imagery often scares us away! This expository Bible study gives us the confidence to interpret the mysteries.

9. God for Us: Discovering the Heart of the Father through the Life of the Son by Abby Ross Hutto

Does God feel far off and unconcerned—or even against you? Abby Hutto presents thirteen stories about Jesus from John’s gospel that dispel our distrust and confusion by narrating through Jesus who God truly is. She interweaves testimonials from modern-day believers with further Scripture and discussion questions to assure us that God is for us and longs to draw our confused, distrusting hearts to himself.

10. The Afternoon of Life: Finding Purpose and Joy in Midlife by Elyse Fitzpatrick

The Afternoon of Life is written for women in the middle years of their lives. As we age, we wonder at the many changes occurring in our lives. How do we make the necessary adjustments? How do we handle all this? Elyse Fitzpatrick shows us how our faith can be at the center of how we respond to these life changes. With humor, transparency, and biblical wisdom, she helps us see that God’s purpose in bringing us through this time is to glorify himself and sanctify us.

11. My Grandmother Is . . . Praying for Me: Daily Prayers and Proverbs for Character Development in Grandchildren by Susan Kelton, Pamela Ferriss, & Kathryn March

Pray for your grandchild’s spiritual development throughout the year with this guide that focuses on one character trait for each month. The daily lessons contain Scripture references, prayers, and activities.

12. Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in Our Weakness by Barbara R. Duguid

Barbara Duguid uses the writings of John Newton to help us understand why even mature Christians can’t seem to shake off sin—and to make us joyous once again at God’s extravagant grace.

13. No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God by Aimee Byrd

Why are many well-intentioned women falling for poor—even false—theology? Writing to concerned women and church officers, Aimee Byrd pinpoints the problem, which lies especially in the way Christian women have been targeted by the publication industry. Aimee answers hot-button questions—How can women grow in discernment? How should pastors preach to women? What are our roles within the church?—and points us in the direction of a multifaceted solution.

14. Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary by Aimee Byrd

Women who want God to be more than superficially in their lives can rise above the world’s expectations by becoming housewife theologians—finding true meaning and true worship every day. Great for journaling and for group discussion.


 

Author Interview with Robert Jones

This author interview is with Robert Jones. He is the author of 7 P&R titles including his newest title, Anger: Calming Your Heart.


  • 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 grew up in central New Jersey, along the shore, in a single-mom home. The Lord saved me when I was a high school senior. I met my wife-to-be Lauren in college and we married in 1983 while I was an M.Div. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. After seminary I pastored for 19 years in WV and completed my D.Min. at Westminster Seminary. In 2004 we moved to Wake Forest, NC, where I taught at Southeastern Seminary for 12 years and also completed my D.Theol. (U. of South Africa). I left the pastorate because I love the pastorate, i.e., because I wanted the next generation of pastors and missionaries to excel in pastoral care and counseling since most seminaries underemphasize the importance of this ministry. In June 2016 we moved to Louisville, KY where I now teach at Southern Seminary and serve actively in my church, Third Avenue Baptist.

I don’t have much spare time, but when I do I love watching sports, playing chess, summer trips to minister in Brasil, traveling with my wife, and visiting my children and grandchildren that we left behind in NC.

 

  • When did you first want to write a book?

Not until I was well into my pastoral ministry and I was encouraged by professors and friends to convert my D.Min. project and preaching on anger into Uprooting Anger (P&R, 2006).

 

  • Have you always enjoyed writing?

I think so. I am thankful for some excellent teachers and professors—Christian and non-Christian—in junior high, high school, and college who taught me how to write and who encouraged me to try.

 

  • What inspired you to write this book, about this topic? 

In many ways, my reasons for writing both Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem (P&R, 2006) and the 31-day devotional, Anger: Calming Your Heart (P&R, 2019) were the same: pastoral and counseling interactions with hundreds of people coupled with an ever growing conviction that Jesus through his Word and Spirit can forgive and change us.

 

  • What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Aside from an occasional person who rejects the biblical view of the heart and the gospel, I have been spared attacks; I’m my toughest critic. The most meaningful set of compliments came from a dozen or so women at a residential Christian group home who together read Uprooting Anger and mailed me a thick packet of handwritten thank-you letters. I read their stories with tears of sadness and joy as they described the Lord’s redemptive work in their lives and the impact of my book. Those letters are keepers!

 

  • Favorite sport to watch? Favorite sport’s team?

The Boston Celtics, the Green Bay Packers, and the New York Yankees, because they were the dynasties when I was a kid and therefore often on TV, and WVU, since you can’t pastor in WV for 19 years without becoming a Mountaineers fan.

 

  • Favorite food?

A half-dozen meals that my wife makes and Brasilian churrasco (BBQ) that she doesn’t make.

 

  • Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Chocolate Chip Mint (though I will also settle for Mint Chocolate Chip).

 

  • The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia? Why?

I like both but lean to Narnia because I read the series to my sons 2.5 times when they were young, because my son and daughter-in-law have promised the exclusive and irrevocable rights to read them to my grandchildren, and because I still weep over “the deeper magic before the dawn of time.”

 

  • Tea or coffee?

To the disappointment of my coffee-shop owner son, neither. Give me Guarana Antarctica (Brasilian) or Mountain Dew Code Red.

 


How can readers discover more about you and your work?


 

Author Interview with William P. Smith

This author interview is with William P. Smith, author of Assurance: Resting in God’s Salvation in our 31-Day Devotionals for Life series.



  • 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’m a Northeast Seaboard guy, having been born and raised in New Jersey and spent most of my adult life in and around Philadelphia. Most of what I’ve done occupationally has been in some form of ministry, whether in an inner-city mission, as a biblical counselor, a seminary professor, event speaker, author or on a church staff. The theme running through all those things is my passion to show people how God longs to connect with them in the midst of their fear, shame, apathy and sin.

I’m married to an amazingly gracious lady for over 27 years now and have three children who are all in the launch phase of their lives as they enter into adulthood. I love taking walks with my wife, spending time talking with our kids, going to their sporting events, rehabbing our home, gardening, cooking, watching movies and reading, especially novels. Given my druthers, there’s nowhere better to be than down the shore or on a bay.

 

  • Which writers inspire you?

While I’ve benefitted from many, many authors, one of the biggest influences on me is CS Lewis. Whether it’s his fiction or his prose, I’ve grown so much from how he engages a fallen world with the beauty and power of practical faith in Christ. Another favorite author of mine was Lewis’s friend, JRR Tolkien. Tolkien takes simple words and constructs an entire world that I’d want to live in. If Lewis teaches me about myself as an individual, Tolkien takes that (very small) individual and locates them within evil’s war against God and the various strategies that God uses to end that war. Both authors fire my imagination for what faith and hope look like on a daily basis.

 

  • The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia? Why?

Ha! Great question based on what I just said. While I’ve learned and read both series several times as an adult, my clear preference is LOTR. It draws out my desire to do big things despite the little hands that I have and it hardens my resolve to keep going when life is just plain hard. I’ve read some of Lewis’ other fictional works more often than LOTR, especially The Great Divorce, but of the two series, Tolkien’s has been more formative and enjoyable for me.

 

  • Do you have a favorite quote?

I kind of go through different quotes during different seasons of life. One that I’ve turned to repeatedly over the past several years when things weren’t always going so well is from JK Rowling. My wife found it initially and posted it on our refrigerator door, then later, my daughter transferred it onto a canvas that’s now prominently displayed in our kitchen. It reads: It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. It helps to keep me pressing forward when I’m inclined to pull back and stop trying.

 

  • Have you always enjoyed writing?

I have always enjoyed writing, but I’ve not always been very good at it. I still have a small collection of stories and poetry dating back to early grade school, but then came years of struggling with English as a school subject, and years of losing that struggle. Seminary and grad school helped teach me the hard discipline of writing whether I feel like it or not, but that turned my writing dense and impenetrable.

Then Jesus came along and challenged me to be more accessible. My mom pointed out once that he never taught the crowds without using a parable (Matt. 13:34-35). Sometimes he did so to cloak his message, but in those verses, it was also to make invisible things clearer. He set a bar for me of learning how to say difficult things more simply by taking everyday elements and using them as windows to see more profound realities. That kind of communicating is something that I enjoy doing—and almost feel a need to do—and most of the time, have to sweat to make happen.

 

  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I’ve heard people say that to write well, you need to read a lot and to read widely. I think that’s very true. Reading gives you a sense of how words go together that you can only develop if you have a lot of familiarity with them.

I also think you need to write a lot and to write regularly. So, if you want to be a writer, make writing a near-daily part of your routine. Write to express yourself and to help clarify what you’re thinking and feeling. Resist the impulse to write perfect copy and instead, focus on getting your ideas down first; there’s always time to go back later and clean them up.

Oh, and this is really important: don’t listen to people who don’t create anything. The world is full of critics who haven’t put themselves out in the public sphere by producing anything of any value themselves. Ignore them (easier said than done!) and find people who have taken that risk and listen to them instead.

 

  • Do you have an interesting writing quirk?

I don’t know if it’s interesting, but I write best by sitting down first with a pen and a pad of paper and letting myself think. That lets me generate thoughts and ideas that then progress to sentences and paragraphs. I think that process slows me down enough to figure out what I’m trying to say and where I’m actually trying to go. When I’ve tried moving to the computer too quickly, the results take longer and haven’t been as good.

 

  • Do you have a favorite sport to watch?

Yes—whatever my children are competing in at the time!

 

  • Tea or coffee?

Both, depending on the time of day. I grew up drinking tea and then married a Brit, so for decades we used to have tea twice a day whether we needed it or not. We still start the day with a mug, but then I’ll go through several cups of coffee (mostly decaf now) throughout the rest of the morning.

 


How can readers discover more about you and your work?