Book Review: “The Hole In Our Holiness” (Kevin DeYoung)

The_Hole_In_Our_HolinessI know what you are expecting right now… to read a book review of The Hole In Our Holiness. I don’t mean to disappoint but STOP, GO buy this book and READ it!

This is one of the best books I have read in quite a while. It was both theologically rich and practically relevant at the same time. With the plethora of books out now concerning the gospel (J. D. Greear’s Gospel, Matt Chandler’s Explicit Gospel, Tullian Tchividjian’s Jesus+Nothing=Everything), I believe Kevin DeYoung’s The Hole In Our Holiness could easily function as the sequel to each of these books. While they emphasize the truth and necessity of a right understanding of the gospel message (which is desperately needed) they often miss the mark of a calling people to radical holiness.

DeYoung emphasizes that the gospel should not only bring us from death to life but also transform every aspect of our lives to make us more like Jesus Christ. He quoted A. W. Tozer, who said, “Plain horse sense ought to tells us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in the life.”

The book has ten chapters, which explore every “nook and cranny” of a biblical understanding of holiness. DeYoung is transparent and witty throughout the book and I appreciate the fact that he emphasized that holiness is hard work. Many of the recent books on the gospel fail to emphasize the fact that believers are called to pursue holiness. DeYoung wrote, “There is a gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness. This must change. It’s not pietism, legalism, or fundamentalism to take holiness seriously. It’s the way of all those who have been called to a holy calling by a holy God.”

I believe the greatest benefit of this book is the fact that DeYoung did not offer a “magic bullet” list that bespeaks of holiness. Often, the tendency when discussing holiness is to have a list of do’s and don’ts: “Here is what you need to do to be holy” and “Here is what you need to not do to be holy. “ Even though he does not offer a list, he does, however, offer a helpful metaphor with which to understand holiness:

You can think of holiness, to employ a metaphor, as the sanctification of your body. The mind is filled with the knowledge of God and fixed on what is good. The eyes turn away from sensuality and shudder at the sight of evil. The mouth tells the truth and refuses to gossip, slander, or speak what is coarse or obscene. The spirit is earnest, steadfast, and gentle. The heart is full of joy instead of hopelessness, patience instead of irritability, kindness instead of anger, humility instead of pride, and thankfulness instead of envy. The sexual organs are pure, being reserved for the privacy of marriage between one man and one woman. The feet move toward the lowly and away from senseless conflict, divisions, and wile parties. The hands are quick to help those in need and ready to fold in prayer. This is the anatomy of holiness.

Hopefully you have a good idea now of what The Hole In Our Holiness is all about and burning desire to pick up the book and be challenged as I was!

Favorite Quotes

“Too many sermons are basically self-help seminars on becoming a better you. That’s moralism, and it’s not helpful. Any gospel which says only what you must do and never announces what Christ has done is no gospel at all.”

“My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ has saved us from, we are giving little thought and making little effort concerning all that Christ has saved us to. Shouldn’t those most passionate about the gospel and God’s glory also be the most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness?”

“Almost everything is easier than growing in godliness.”

“Every generation has both its insights and its blind spots. It takes wisdom to learn from the good and avoid the bad.”

“Righteousness is the goal of Christian discipleship.”

“The world provides no cheerleaders on the pathway to godliness.”

“It is the consistent witness of the New Testament that growth in godliness requires exertion on the part of the Christian.”

“Sanctification is not by surrender, but by divinely enabled toil and effort.”

Gun Control & Believers

In light of the great tragedies involving gun violence, I believe it is essential for believers to take an honest and biblical look at the issue of gun control. This is a heated debate and one that will not be settled any time soon, at least to the satisfaction of all involved in the discussion. The gross mischaracterizations present in the current debate are unfortunate. Regardless of what you hear on the evening news, observe on Facebook pages and read in Twitter feeds, President Obama is not attempting to disarm American citizens in order to set up a military state (think Hitler) and the NRA is not in support of passing out guns like candy on the street corner. Here are some things we as believers need to keep in mind in this discussion:

1. We should champion life. We should never mindlessly bypass the tragedies that have occurred simply to jump into the debate concerning gun control. It should break our hearts that human beings created in God’s image have been senselessly murdered. We should grieve along with the families and long for the day that sin is done away with once and for all. If we want to fight, we should fight for life.

2. Murder happened long before guns were around. Genesis 4 details the first murder that occurred on this planet. It was a senseless murder. It was one committed out of pride and rage. It was sin. In fact, God’s words to Cain emphasized this: “The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it’” (Genesis 4:6-7). Our primary problem is not a gun control problem but a sin problem. This world needs Jesus. If we want to fight, we should fight to make Jesus known.

3. Requiring stringent background checks makes sense. As believers, we of all people should desire good to prevail and evil to be defeated. In Luke 12:48, Jesus said, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” I have no problem with requiring much from one to whom we are giving much (ie. a weapon that could be used for evil purposes). In fact, I think this makes perfect sense. If we want to fight, we should fight and pray for wisdom for our lawmakers as they seek to enact laws that will promote good and discourage evil.

4. The 2nd Amendment is good but we must put it into context. Here is what the 2nd Amendment says: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I want to be brief on this point but I also want to admit that I recognize that this amendment has been dissected and debated for years. When our Constitution was written and the Bill of Rights adopted, our founding fathers recognized the need for each state to have a well-armed militia (after all they were about to enter into battle with the British Empire). At this point in history, we have no need for militias since local, state and the federal governments offer protection through our armed forces and police officers. I do see the need to have personal protection but to imply that a person’s arsenal would stand any chance against the government’s resources would be beyond absurd! The ultimate goal of the 2nd Amendment was peace; freedom from the tyranny of the British Empire. The same should be true today. If we want to fight, we should fight for peace.

Healthy Living (Week 4)

Over the next few months I have a goal of dropping 40lbs (195lbs goal weight) and then maintaining a healthy lifestyle from this point forward. I need to do this. I need to do it for myself, my family, and ultimately to be a good steward for my Lord. I had this same goal last year and it never materialized. No regrets. I just need to move forward!

I still do not believe I am going all out but I did lose another pound this week. One is better than none but I still want to step it up! Steady plodding does work though!

Starting Weight: 235

Week 4 Weight: 232 

Total Weight Loss: 3

Week 5 Workout Plan

Tuesday

– 60 minutes racquetball

Wednesday

– 20 minutes treadmill

– 45 minutes Beast of Workout

Thursday

– 60 minutes racquetball

Friday

– 20 minutes treadmill

– 45 minutes Beast of Workout

Saturday & Sunday

– Rest Day

Monday

– 20 minutes treadmill

– 45 minutes Beast of Workout

Spiritual New Years Resolutions

I’m not sure if you made any resolutions this year but I made some personally and even challenged our church family to make some spiritual resolutions. We all have priorities in our life where we invest most of our time, efforts, and resources. I shared with our church that my concern, both personally and for our church, is that we often find ourselves heavily invested in things that matter very little in God’s kingdom.

I preached a series call “Resolved” which addressed these spiritual resolutions and issued a challenged our church family. I specifically focused on four areas that should be a priority in every believer’s life: (1) God’s Word, (2) God’s Mission, (3) God’s People, and (4) God’s Glory. Below you will find links to the audio messages. Feel free to listen to the messages and allow the Lord to challenge you as he did me!

Resolved: God’s Word will be a priority

Resolved: God’s Mission will be a priority

Resolved: God’s People will be a priority

Resolved: God’s Glory will be a priority

What I Learned Being Mr. Mom

My lovely wife, Janie, is heading back right now from a Pastor’s Wives Conference (T-minus 1 hour until her arrival). To say we (me and my girls) are ready would be the understatement of the century! We have had a blast but it is just not the same without mommy being around! This 48 hour “no mommy” zone has taught me quite a few things:

1. My wife’s job is harder than mine. Taking care of a 2 and 4 year old is a full-time and part-time job wrapped together.  Even though I am stressed a good bit as a pastor, it is nothing like being a stay-at-home mom. The fact that Janie can even utter two words to me at the end of the day is flabbergasting!

2. I need to tell her thank you more often. I do not praise Janie enough! She is wonderful and I need to tell her that more often. Hers is a thankless job and I need to make sure she knows that I value what she does and there is nothing greater that she could be doing.

3. I missed my best friend. There were countless times during my Janie’s absence that I wanted to share something with her: a funny moment, a thought, a kiss. I need to value the time we have together. The old saying rings true, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

4. The life of a single parent is hard. Taking care of my girls was hard work and the thought of doing it all by myself all the time is mind-boggling. My dad was a single parent for three years during my childhood and I have a renewed respect for everything he did. I also have a greater appreciation for all those single parents in our church and community.

5. My girls are a lot of fun. We had a blast over the past two days. We ate donuts for breakfast, ice cream for lunch, and I even painted their fingernails and toenails. In the day-in and day-out grind it can be difficult to appreciate the moment. I want to do a better job of this!

6. Technology is awesome. I was able to talk with Janie several times each day and send her some videos and pictures of the girls doing various things. She also sent me a couple of pictures of their experience. The fact that this would not have been possible 10 years ago is crazy!

Healthy Living (Week 3)

Over the next few months I have a goal of dropping 40lbs (195lbs goal weight) and then maintaining a healthy lifestyle from this point forward. I need to do this. I need to do it for myself, my family, and ultimately to be a good steward for my Lord. I had this same goal last year and it never materialized. No regrets. I just need to move forward!

I still do not believe I am going all out but I did lose another pound this week. One is better than none but I still want to step it up!

Starting Weight: 235

Week 3 Weight: 233 

Total Weight Loss: 2

Week 4 Workout Plan

Wednesday

– 60 minutes racquetball

Thursday

– 20 minutes treadmill

– 45 minutes Beast of Workout

Friday

– long run (60 minutes)

– 10 wind sprints

Saturday

– 45 minutes Beast of Workout

Sunday

– Rest Day

Monday

– 60 minutes racquetball

Tuesday

– 20 minutes treadmill

– 45 minutes Beast of Workout

Book Review: “The Conviction To Lead” (Albert Mohler)

conviction-to-lead-thumbWe have all heard the saying, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” Leadership books, seminars, and conferences flood the landscape of our church culture. In fact, I spent several hours earlier this week sitting through a leadership seminar presented by our local association in conjunction with our state convention. One serious concern I have is that a great deal of this leadership training finds its foundation in corporate America. Much of what is served up as “Christian” leadership consists of nothing more than secular leadership theory sprinkled with a few Bible verses.

Enter… stage right… Dr. Albert Mohler’s book, The Conviction To Lead. Concerning the purpose of the book, he wrote, “Let me warn you right up front – my goal is to change the way you think about leadership. I do not aim merely to add one more voice to the conversation; I want to fundamentally change the way leadership is understood and practiced.” Having read the book, I think he succeeds.

The Conviction To Lead contains 25 chapters (it is definitely not a short read) that focus on various aspects of leadership ranging from the leader’s purpose to the leader’s time to the leader’s legacy. Wisdom oozes from every chapter in this book and Dr. Mohler’s transparency is refreshing. He shared various struggles he encountered in his own leadership journey and how these challenges helped shaped him as a leader. Most importantly, Mohler approached leadership from a biblical perspective and allowed Scripture to shape what a leader should be and do.

I would recommend this book to every leader or aspiring leader regardless of vocation. In fact, I would even recommend this book to non-believers because I believe Mohler grapples with some aspects of leadership that go deeper than surface level theories and skills. His premise is that leaders are shaped by what they believe and every leader must identify the values and convictions that serve as the foundation for their leadership. As believers, this foundation is Jesus Christ. In my estimation, reading this book could help a non-believer recognize that their “foundation” is much like the shifting sand that Jesus says the foolish man built his house upon.

Buy this book. Marinate in its truth. Allow it to challenge and grow you as a leader. Buy a copy for your church staff or a friend!

Favorite Quotes

“Convictions are not merely beliefs we hold; they are those beliefs that hold us in their grip. We would not know who we are but for these bedrock beliefs, and without them we would not know how to lead.”

“Convictional intelligence is the product of learning the Christian faith, diving deeply into biblical truth, and discovering how to think like a Christian.”

“No organization that exists simply for itself is worth leading. Leaders want to lead organizations and movements that make a difference – that fill a need and solve real problems.”

“A God-centered worldview brings every issue, question, and cultural concern into submission to all that the Bible reveals, and frames all understanding within the ultimate purpose of bringing greater glory to God.”

“We cannot buy passion, nor can we simply decide to be passionate. Passion must arise out of conviction. It cannot come any other way.”

“Far too often leaders aim at the surface level and stop there. Real leadership doesn’t happen until worldviews are changed and realigned. You might be able to lead a group to build a house without trying to shape worldviews, but you cannot build a movement that way.”