Today I’ve got two short videos for you. The first is about the three books that have impacted me the most while the second discusses whether Christians really need to tithe. Both are drawn from my recent Ask Me Anything event in London.
What have been the most impactful book for you as a Christian?
When it comes to impactful books, I usually go to three books. Which would be The Holiness of God by RC Sproul, The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges, and Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen.
Just as we’ve been driving around and talking, we had Jeremy Walker with us for a couple of days, and just talking a lot, talking about the state of the current church, talking about our own walk with the Lord, it’s occurred to me again how much those three books, and especially Owen, how much they’ve meant to me. And how it’s really become part of the way I think and part of the way I process life. And I think, you know there’s books you read and someone will come to me and say, I read this book last week, it’s changed my life. And I think, no, you don’t know that yet, right, like it takes time. There’s books we can be enthusiastic about but years later when you say something you’re convinced is original, but it actually is drawn straight out of that author, that’s when you know a book has really changed your life. His thought has become your thought. Like, you’re just, you’re thinking that guy’s thoughts after him. Those are the few and the precious books that I think really, really stick around and actually do change your life. So, for me, those three books.
The Holiness of God really brought me face to face with God in His holiness, in a way no other book has done.
The Disciplines of Grace I think really showed me the value of preaching the gospel to myself day by day, just reminding myself of the gospel. And I know this whole gospel dash centered thing has become really almost cliché in the Christian world, and I think a lot of people are confused by this gospel centered talk, and I include myself in the confused camp. But I think if day by day, you’re simply starting the day, or at some point in the day thinking about the fact that the gospel tells you that you are in Christ, that the gospel, I am a sinner, I’ve confessed my sins to the Lord, I’ve received His salvation, I am in Christ, a new creation. There’s the gospel, Christ is returning. You know, like this is the Gospel. If you’re thinking about that and pondering its implications for your life. Man, Jerry Bridges taught me the importance of that, and that’s become a very important discipline in my life.
And then again, John Owen just teaching me the hideous nature of sin and I think what he does so well in his book, and I recommend the version published by Crossway that was, sort of modernized just a little bit by Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic. I think he makes sin a living being that is out to get you. Sin is trying to destroy you. You can’t be complacent with sin, you can’t treat sin with … softly or gently. Sin is out to get you, and something is going to die. Either it’s you or it’s sin, but something’s going to give. And just the instruction he gives there and identifying sin, putting sin to death, coming alive to righteousness, I think has been … It just so much shaped the way … There’s sins I am terrified of now because I met them in his book and saw the horror of them. And I think they’ve really shown me the glory of holiness, the glory of righteousness and the sheer horror of sin. Also, John Owen isn’t as hard to read as people say if you read that version. It’s slow going but treat yourself, it’ll be fine.
How can the church cultivate wise financial stewardship in the lives of its members?
In terms of finances, yes, so, young people living in an expensive city is a difficult place to be. We’re in Toronto and it’s much the same. You’re getting started in life and you’ve got school debt and you’ve got bills and you’ve got, you know, you’re not in your prime earning years and all of that. And in that context, it’s very, very easy to get in the habit of not giving or to refuse to build the habit of giving. And I don’t think the Lord allows us to not give. Maybe if you are absolutely, you’re not doing anything, you’re only buying the cheapest stuff, you’re not doing anything else, then okay, maybe you could talk to the elders or deacons in your church and say, what do I do? But, I mean, if you’re drinking Starbucks and you’re, as most people are, and you’re just, you’ve got money for other things, and you say, I just can’t afford to give anything. Well, you can, right. And it ought to be a great joy to be giving. It’s not meant to be a burden. But you don’t get to know the joy until you’ve experienced the joy and to experience the joy, you actually have to experience the giving. It really is more blessed to give than to receive, right. There is true joy in giving to the work of the Lord. The joy doesn’t come because you necessarily see, I gave that dollar and it went here and it accomplished this. The joy comes through obedience, you’re being obedient to the Lord and the Lord just gives you joy in your giving. You get to experience the, it really is a blessing to be able to give. It’s also a sign of gratitude, right. Not giving is ingratitude. You’re saying to the Lord, you’ve given this to me, instead of expressing my thanks for your provision in giving back, I’m holding on to it. That’s a lack of gratitude. There’s a reason there were thank offerings, right, to express thanks to God. So, you’re denying yourself many blessings if you refuse to give. Not only that, but you may on the opposite side be asking God to chasten you in some way, right. Which God does, just as a parent chastens their child who has been disobedient, God does that to us. So, it is a joy to give, it’s a joy to know you’ve given, a joy to be able to thank God as you give, and to experience the blessings of that.