The Ultimate Kindle Giveaway: Buy a G4S Book; Enter for a FREE Kindle

Torrey Gazette and Grace for Sinners Books have joined forces for the ultimate giveaway. We are giving away a free Kindle. You heard that correctly. All you need to do is purchase one of these titles in any format and fill out the form below:

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Order The Lord’s Prayer: A Family Devotion

Many modern definitions and practical guides on the subject of prayer are available today. Traditionally, prayer was taught through careful study of Christ’s instruction on prayer. John Calvin who was at the center of the Reformation’s return to biblical worship said, “No man will pray aright, unless his lips and heart shall be directed by the Heavenly Master.” 

In this vein, The Lord’s Prayer delves deeply into the words of Christ to instruct families on the depth of riches available in this prayer. With guidance from the Psalms, the early church fathers, and the luminaries of the Reformation, The Lord’s Prayer points to the singular truth of prayer—complete reliance upon God’s promises.

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Review: J. Warner Wallace’s God’s Crime Scene

I’m a sucker for a good police procedural. And I’m not alone. Some of the most popular and lasting shows are stuff like CSI, NCIS, and Law and Order. That’s what drew me to J. Warner Wallace’s first book Cold Case Christianity but what kept me was the engaging stories and good writing. God’s Crime Scene offers more of the same but instead of tackling the question of Does God exist? He’s looking at evidence for divine design in the cosmos—morality, fine tuning, free will, origins of life, etc.

Each chapter is structured around a crime scene investigation that Wallace worked during his time as a detective. He collects and examines the evidence seeking to determine whether the cause was “inside the room” or “outside the room.” You can see how this makes a great framework for examining evidence for divine design in the cosmos.

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Review: Charles A. Davis’ Making Disciples Across Cultures

Davis sets the goal high:

“What I needed, and what is needed today, is a set of universal disciple-making principles by which to evaluate the cultural and theological assumptions that in turn precipitate the methods and patterns of behavior common in churches and among church leaders” (22)

To do this he has crafted ten principles with sliding cultural values. They are:

  1. Disciples Let God Lead from the Invisible World (Visible vs Invisible)
  2. Disciples Hear and Obey (Knowledge vs Behavior)
  3. Disciples Develop Relational Interdependence (Individualism vs Collectivism)
  4. Disciples Do What Love Requires (Gospel-Truth vs Works-Justice)
  5. Disciples Make Disciples (One-Way Delivery vs Group Interaction)
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Order We Believe: Creeds, Confessions, & Catechism for Worship + Bonus Content

I want to thank everyone involved with the We Believe launch including but not limited to my wife LeAnn, Joshua Torrey, the endorsers, and everyone who pre-ordered it and/or shared it on social media. 

We Believe has over 350 pages of invaluable and timeless resources for your personal worship. The kindle version is available right now for $2.99. That's special pricing that will be available until Reformation Sunday—after that pricing goes up to $4.99. The paperback is $8.99 during pre-order. That's only $0.22 over physical cost of printing the book. After release, the paperback will be $12.99. 

Also, if you've purchased either format of We Believe, please fill out the form below (bottom) to receive a free bonus ebook by the end of November.

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12 Quotations from Os Guinness’ Fool’s Talk

Os Guinness. Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion. IVP Books. Downers Grove, IL, 2015.

“It might seem bizarre, almost unimaginable, that Christian communication ha lost something so central to its mission. Yet in profound ways it has, and that is why our challenge is to think about apologetics in ways that are not only fresh but faithful and independent—faithful in the sense that they are shaped by the imperatives of Christian truths, and independent in the sense that they are not primarily beholden to ways of thinking that are alien to Christian ways of thinking. (p. 18)

Our urgent need today is to reunite evangelism and apologetics, to make sure that our best arguments are direct toward winning people and not just winning arguments, and to seek to do all this in a manner that is true to the gospel itself.” (p. 18)

“Christian advocacy must move from our love of God and his truth and beauty, to our love for the people we talk to and work right up to their love for God and his truth and beauty in their turn.” (p. 45)

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The Privilege of Being Simul Justus Et Peccator

In late August, no small kerfuffle ensued because Black Lives Matter activists Shaun King was accused of lying about his ethnicity and co-opting blackness for personal gain. This situation along with Ekemini Uwan’s tweets (above) started me thinking. Why doesn’t our black family receive the privilege of being sinners without it discrediting an entire group of people?

The accusations leveled against Shaun forced him to share painful family history to set the record straight:

My mother is a senior citizen. I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother’s past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now, but I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man. My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment.

I love my mom and my gut hurt that his mother’s past indiscretions were drudged up. However, the Shaun King scandal highlights a common tactic used against black leaders and their movements—attacking the character, morality, or actions to discredit a black social concerns.  For that short window when the slander might have been true, Shaun’s personal failure immediately was presumed to hurt the Black Lives Matter movement even if everything they had been fighting against was just and right (whether it is or isn’t is a topic for another day).


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Review: Os Guinness’ Fool’s Talk (IVP Books)

Os begins by setting out two propositions: first, we are in “the grand age of apologetics” (16) and second, “We have lost the art of Christian persuasion and we must recover it”(17 italics original). His game plan? Bringing together the art of apologetic and evangelism. Divorce the two and you get Christians only concerned with winning arguments and not people or just concerned with ABC repeat-after-me tactics. When the two are combined, you have arguments that take other’s belief seriously, are actually concerned for people, and are aimed at the heart.

I’m a recovering ABC repeat-after-me evangelists and grew up in a tradition that could be manipulative when inviting people to Christ. So even though in my head I know persuasion isn’t bad sometimes I find myself suspicious when the word pops up in the context of evangelism. If you’re like me, you might have thought, Shouldn’t we just proclaim the gospel and allow the Spirit to work?

What I loved most of all was how cruciform and Spirit-dependent Os was through out Fool’s Talk. He made clear our arguments rest on the cross of Christ which is folly to an unbelieving world and the power of the Spirit (28). Persuasion doesn’t mean deception or cheesy bait-and-switch tactics. It means approaching apologetics-evangelism with excellence like we would anything else.

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New Book: We Believe: Creeds, Confessions, & Catechisms for Worship

I have some exciting news. My next book will be releasing September 25, 2015. We Believe: Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms for Worship will be a straightforward resource for ordinary Christians wanting a handsome and easy to use volume with all the must have creeds, confessions, and catechisms for worship. The current structure is:

  • Foreword (Surprise Writer!)
  • Introduction by Mathew B. Sims
  • Chapter 1: The Catholic Creeds
    • Apostles' Creed
    • Nicene Creed
    • Athanasian Creed
  • Chapter 2: The Dutch Reformed Tradition
    • Belgic Confession
    • Heidelberg Catechisms
    • Canons of Dort
  • Chapter 3: The Scottish-English Tradition
    • Thomas Manton's Epistle to the Reader
    • The Westminster Confession
    • The Westminster Shorter Catechism
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Beginning at Moses: Who is the Serpent Crusher?

The legend goes that Ernest Hemingway is eating lunch with some fellow writers at Lüchow’s, a German restaurant near Union Square in Manhattan. Hemingway, with a background in newspaper was known for his writing style, is challenged to write a novel in six words. He scribbles down these six words on a napkin: “For sale: Baby shoes; never worn.” For anyone who has lost a child, these six words put a knot in your stomach. Without explaining the background or incidents, Hemingway captures our affections. Whether this story is true or apocryphal, the point stands—good stories don’t need lots of words. Leaving something to imagination is powerful.

The Sound of the Gospel in the Garden

Not to be outdone, God has crafted the grandest story of all time. However, the story was veiled in darkness until the arrival of the God-man from Nazareth, Jesus Christ. The first hint we get at Jesus arrives in Genesis 3:15.

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The Forgotten Essential of the Kingdom

We hiked through the tangled woods searching for something beautiful. The trees had changed. We started on an open path with towering trees and far reaching boughs. As the path made its way closer to the water, the trees changed becoming smaller and reaching over the path which narrowed. These branches were bent and gnarled like the hands of my grandmother.

As the path descended, the air become cooler. We also heard the gurgling of water which grew into a growl as we approached our destination—a magnificent waterfall with a devastating 420-foot drop. This natural wonder is not the kind you walk by without awe at its beauty and danger. It demands you stop. We found a rock at the edge of the river looking over the waterfall and sat. We admired the beauty and danger of this tour de force of water.

Christians above all should be the kind of people who stop in awe of beauty.“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).

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Spay and Neuter Your Children

"It was because in Jesus the Creator Word of God was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, that Christians came to regard the unborn fetus in a new light, sanctified by the Lord Jesus as an embryonic person." —T.F. Torrance

The staged release of the undercover planned parenthood videos has brought to the surface issues that must be addressed by Christians who see social justice, caring for the poor, and protecting all life as an every square inch issue for Christian ethics.

Unequivocally, abortion is an unprecedented evil in our culture. The history of our world demonstrates that evil is cyclical. One generation may have a blind spot when it comes to race. We see this in the New Testament as Paul addresses many of the uniquely Jewish sins as it relates to accepting Gentiles into the covenant community. We also see this in the Atlantic slave trade just two centuries ago and the continued affect of that in American life for minorities.

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Review: Fear and Faith by Trillia J. Newbell (Moody Publishers)

OK you may be wondering why I am reviewing Trillia Newbell’s Fear and Faith—a book for women. I found myself wondering how I related to so much of what Trillia wrote. Don’t get me wrong. Fear and Faith is geared towards women. She addresses seven prevailing fears for women—fear of man, the future, other women, tragedy, not measuring up, physical appearance, and sexual intimacy. But she fundamentally deals with core fears of the human heart.

Fear and Faith is about how, when we place our security in the Lord, we too can wear strength as our clothing (Proverbs 31:17)” (18). We do that by fighting fear with the fear of the Lord (17). She says later, “We fear Him because we know Him—a knowing that is intimate and initiated by Him” (113). Knowing God produces a healthy fear that destroys the destructive kind of fear.

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Review: G. K. Beale and Mitchell Kim’s God Dwells Among Us (IVP)

God Dwells Among Us exemplified biblical study in service of every day mission. Beale and Kim state upfront, “The goal of this book is to strengthen biblical conviction for sacrificial mission” 14. In this regard, this book succeeds on all fronts. They argue further,

“Mission does not begin with the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, but mission is God’s heartbeat from Genesis 1 until the new heaven and earth become the dwelling place of the Lord God Almighty in Revelation 21-22” 16.

They accomplish this by first laying the foundation for this claim.

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Are You Afraid or Poking the Bear?

I have a confession and a bit of repentance to do. You see a few weeks back I came across this “Open Letter to a Trapped Wife.” Douglas Wilson addresses a woman who feels her pastors are not disciplining her husband for his anger promptly enough. He talks about the necessity of due process and witnesses then gives this bit of pastoral wisdom:

I have seen situations where everybody in the family claimed to be afraid of the angry bear with a temper problem, but nobody appeared to have the slightest concern about his views, opinions, decisions, or values. But this made me wonder — if everyone was so afraid of the angry bear — why they all kept poking him with their sticks. They claimed fear so that they could use it as another weapon against someone they did not like, and did not respect, but actual fear was absent. I have seen other situations where the family was genuinely paralyzed by actual fear, and spent all day every day walking on egg shells.

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4 Easy Steps for Better Editing

Editing takes effort and even with the best effort I labor through some articles and books. Maintaining focus takes practice and keeping focus after reading through a manuscript a handful of times takes some tricks. Here are my best practices to improve your editing.

1. Full Page Mode

To maintain focus through a long project especially I prefer to move to full page mode. First the aesthetics of the white space provides a ripe atmosphere for creative work. Second it removes distractions. Email is closed. The background is covered. There’s no quick temptation to check social media. Full page funnels the gaze to the writing at hand.

2. Change Zoom

In close connection to moving to full page mode, I also prefer to adjust the zoom. On a first read through I will zoom to 150%-175%—that keeps me from slipping into reader mode. Ever had that happen? You’re editing and you find yourself three to five pages down stream and realize you were reading as a reader, not as an editor. At 150%-175% you only get a paragraph or two at a time. It keeps you laser focused. On subsequent reads, I zoom out usually to 100%-125%. This also keeps my eyes and brain fresh on later reads.

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