"Sufficient Hope isn’t written simply to give moms tips to survive motherhood. Fox’s aim is to draw mothers to exalt God in their hearts above their schedules, activities, and to-do lists."
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Motherhood is challenging. I see the struggles my wife faces on a daily basis and wonder how moms do it! Motherhood is often thankless and exhausting work. Yet mothers are not hopeless, even in their helplessness. Christina Fox’s Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms is a powerful, gospel-centered reminder to mothers that Jesus needs to be front and center in their lives and work as mothers. Her message to mothers is simple: “Christ is to be first and foremost in our lives.”
Sufficient Hope isn’t written simply to give moms tips to survive motherhood. Fox’s aim is to draw mothers to exalt God in their hearts above their schedules, activities, and to-do lists. She makes clear that “this book is about the gospel’s sufficiency to give moms hope in their motherhood” because the demands and pressures of life often seem to choke out every bit of hope you have.
That pile of laundry will still stare you down as you walk by, but Christ’s glorious grace will remind you that you’re worth more than folded clothes. The kids will still cry and beg for your attention, but you’ll be reminded that dwelling with Christ helps you love them when your energy is sapped and you just need a nap. Jesus will be your hope even on good days where your head feels above water for a few moments.
Most importantly, Sufficient Hope will remind you that the ultimate aim of motherhood is to draw closer to Christ and point your children to the eternal hope that keeps you going every day. If you’re looking for a book that’s light on Scripture and heavy on lifehacks, tips, and ideas, this isn’t the book you’re looking for—but please still pick it up!
Each chapter opens with a quote from an excellent pastor or author to stir up your thoughts and give you something to ponder. Saturated with scripture, Sufficient Hope, points beyond Fox’s experiences to her Anchor—Jesus Christ. Each chapter ends with some application questions and extended study followed by a gospel-saturated prayer to help mothers seek the Lord and cast your anxieties on Him.
Fox is engaging, practical, and uses plenty of illustrations to help you see that she is in the trenches of motherhood with you. She’s not the supermom type who writes only from success. She struggles, too, and she’s willing to let you know that. She’s also willing to share what God showed her in those tough moments.
Grab a copy for yourself, your wife, or a mother who needs to be reminded of the hope found in Jesus Christ! You won’t go wrong!
"Beeke and Smalley unashamedly desire theology to be practiced, and they make it clear through the doxological and practical layout of this book."
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Systematic theology is important in helping us see what the Bible teaches on a particular topic or theme in scripture. Ranging from the existence of God to the coming of Christ, systematic theologies help us grasp the breadth of scripture as we wrestle with the meaning of specific passages and how they relate to our understanding of the doctrines of the Bible.
Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley’s Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God is the first volume in an amazing corpus of systematic theology. It is accessible for every student of the Bible, especially pastors and teachers. While this is a new work, it is certainly not a novel one since Beeke draws widely and deeply from the wells of systematic theologians throughout history, especially those from the Reformed stream of Protestantism.
Beeke and Smalley’s introduction to theology is worth the price of the book. In this section, they lay out the importance of theology, what it is, why we do it, which theology we do, and how it’s done. Far from being dead orthodoxy, Reformed Systematic Theology is academic, spiritual, Christian, catholic (universal church), evangelical, and reformed (historically, confessionally, theologically, hermeneutically, polemically, and experientially). This funnel of doctrinal perspectives begins broad and narrows in on a rich history of theology which has benefited the church, especially Protestantism, for centuries.
The depth of knowledge in this work can’t be discussed at length in this short review, but what should be known is that Beeke and Smalley bring the wisdom of Scripture and witness of the church together to present theology in a richly rewarding way. Not only do they present scriptural passages and their interpretations as it relates to the various doctrines, but they also interact with objections to the biblical, orthodox, and historical understandings of the Bible. This is done in a humble and scholarly manner, leaving readers informed enough to wrestle with different perspectives without building weak, strawman arguments.
I deeply enjoy Joel Beeke’s preaching and writing because he is well-read and well-studied, yet his writing style is deep without being dry, and clear without being simplistic. As a lover of the Puritans and their writings, I also thoroughly enjoy the references to Puritan works as well as early church fathers, the Reformers, and modern systematic theologians. This breadth is enjoyable as it sheds enough light on historical thinking without becoming a historical theology and illuminates enough modern works to model and maintain the relevance needed to discuss the issues of today’s church.
As with much of what Beeke has done with his Family Worship Guide and Reformed Preaching, Reformed Systematic Theology features experiential theology. Each chapter of this book has songs for worship, questions for meditation and discussion, and questions for deeper reflection. Beeke and Smalley unashamedly desire theology to be practiced, and they make it clear through the doxological and practical layout of this book.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoy Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God and look forward to the rest of the books in the series. Whether you’re a biblical scholar, pastor, or Christian who loves the Word of God, this is a great addition to your studies of theology. Lord willing, it will be one of my go-to systematic theologies for sermon prep, teaching, and deeper study of Scripture. It is obviously Reformed in its content, but don’t let this deter you from such a rich and valuable resource. It is a useful tool for the church.
"Nelson draws from the deep wells of Scripture as well as the writings of renowned saints throughout church history. Take the deep dive into the holiness of God!"
I received a free copy of this book from the author. I was not required to leave a positive review.
We all need a good dose of teaching on the holiness of God. In Deuteronomy 8:11-18, God warned the Israelites not to forget Him so they wouldn’t say in their hearts, “my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” (v. 17). If the Israelites, who saw a physical manifestation of God in His rescue from Egypt and in His appearance at Mount Sinai, could fall away, how much more should we guard against forgetting? If they needed a reminder from God and “these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (1 Cor. 10:6), we ought to slow down and meditate on God’s holiness.
Allen Nelson’s Before The Throne beckons us to slow down and really ponder what it means to say, “God is holy”. He also urges us to pause and really think about how impossible it is to fully grasp God rather than assuming we have Him all figured out. If there’s anything to learn from this book, it’s that “the holiness of God is unspeakable” (p. 30). Every page is a powerful reminder that God is infinitely immense and too grand to figure out with our feeble human minds.
Nelson is not focused on bringing any new doctrines or theories on the holiness of God. He states early in the book: “there is nothing new I can tell you about God’s holiness that Scripture has not already plainly stated” (p.2). He draws from a rich heritage on writings on holiness ranging from John Calvin to R.C. Sproul, but his primary focus is on the writings of God’s Word. There is no greater source for discussing and describing holiness than to go to the Fountain of the infinite holiness who is to be desired and enjoyed forever.
The aim of this book is not a mere academic understanding of God’s holiness. This would totally miss the mark of Scripture and be an absolute failure! Rather, Nelson knows that “we were made to adore (God)” and writes from that doxological perspective throughout this work (p. 3). We are drawn to adoration and thanksgiving as we consider that God condescended to share Himself with feeble and sinful humanity. We are unworthy of such grace, but God has shown us Himself in His Word.
Each chapter has questions for group discussion or family worship along with a Scripture review section. This brings Before The Throne even more down to earth as it can easily be brought home to our daily life and our homes. And lest you think this book is solely focused on God the Father, leaving no room for the gospel,
Nelson brings the gospel throughout this book. Here’s one specific example:
“In other words, Christ took our place on the cross so that in Him God could ‘by no means clear the guilty.’ God punished our guilt in Christ, and by faith in Christ gives us Jesus’s righteousness as a free gift.” (p.112).
If you’re looking for a book to study that is rich with scripture and theology, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a devotional read that will challenge you to love and stand in awe of God, look no further. Before The Throne packs a one-two punch of doctrine and devotion that is sure to bless many a soul. Though it’s deep and there are some technical words and mentions of Greek and Hebrew, it’s accessible, doxological, and devotional. Nelson draws from the deep wells of Scripture as well as the writings of renowned saints throughout church history. Take the deep dive into the holiness of God with Allen Nelson!
Do You Keep Your Bible Open?
Lately I've been keeping an open Bible on my desk at work. Before you think I'm being self-righteous, it's not an attempt to show off to my boss or coworkers, nor is it to "preach the gospel and, if necessary, use words". I actually got the idea after hearing about the devotional life of a godly man who mentioned keeping open Bibles around so he could be consistently in God's Word.
This tidbit of wisdom seemed genius, and I wanted to put it to the test. I recently read Andy Crouch's Tech-Wise Family and I'm finishing up The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley. These books speak of the importance of habits and nudges that help guide our lives in the direction we want them to go.
So far, keeping a Bible open has been a great nudge in the right direction, and I want to share a couple of reasons I've found it helpful.
An open Bible helps me read Scripture more frequently.
Too often, I find myself confining Bible reading to a "quiet time". While I highly value having a daily quiet time with the Lord, there are nights that I stay up late and mornings that I sleep in. However, the blessed person is the one whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2). In order to meditate day and night, I need more than just a once-a-day encounter with scripture. I also desire to at least read and pray morning and night.
Keeping my Bible open helps me meditate in two very practical ways:
An open Bible leads to spiritual conversations
At home, if my Bible is open on my desk, counter, or table, I am ready to look at some passage of scripture to discuss with my wife and children. Some of the best spiritual conversations I have with my wife are when we are wrestling with a truth in Scripture that has perplexed us both. It usually starts out with, "this may be a dumb question, but...". It always ends in us discussing and searching scripture to find the answers. If I'm reading Hebrews 2:1 over and over, it may lead to discussion about how to guard ourselves against apostasy. That may then lend itself to some discussion during family worship.
At work, I am able to take a few minutes to read scripture on breaks or at lunch. When I’m actively reading and thinking about the Word, it’s more likely to mix into my conversations and allow me to witness effectively to my colleagues. While I may not quote a specific passage, I’ll certainly be reminded not to try to hide my faith or operate from a secular worldview. Rather, I’ll be more likely to let the words I’ve been glancing at to season my speech with grace. In a postmodern society, this will prove to be an effective way to witness to your coworkers.
An open Bible impacts how I live
It would be foolish to claim that the world doesn’t influence me throughout the day. From a tough student to a slow-moving tractor on a two lane road, sin is crouching at the door. If I’ve been reading scripture I may still fall into that temptation. But the chances of escaping temptation are higher when my mind is set on the Spirit and I’m putting my sin to death. How often have you found yourself in a temptation only to remind yourself of something you read or heard earlier in scripture? That’s the Spirit working through His Word to sanctify you.
If we strive to be doers rather than hearers of the Word, then reading the Word frequently will change how we live each day (James 1:22). If we are drawn to worship from a passage in the Psalms, that love for God will spill over into our work. If we have been convicted about not loving our spouse by reading Ephesians 5, that will change our home life. If we’ve just confessed pride, lust, or worldliness because we’ve been convicted by scripture, we will be more likely to forgive as God forgave us. The Spirit uses His Word in our normal, mundane, everyday lives to give us the holiness without which no one will see God (Hebrews 12:14).
Give it a try
Keep your Bible open for a week and try to intentionally read at least a verse each time you pass by. I am confident that your life will be impacted by it. If you’re like me and youve got a bunch of Bibles, set one in a few different places. As you go through your day—especially when you feel nudged to check in on social media or waste the time doing something else, take a few minutes to read a verse, think about it, and pray. Surely it will be beneficial to be with God for those few minutes, right?
What are some other small nudges or habits that have helped you spend more time in God’s Word? How have they benefitted your spiritual and devotional life?