“In order for us to be made alive, all our sins must be forgiven, not merely some of them. Not just the big ones. In fact, there is no such thing as a little sin — all sin is an infinite offense because God is infinitely holy. Any type or amount of sin earns a death sentence.”

Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington, The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 190

by Thabiti (thuh-BEE-tee) Anyabwile

I picked up What is a Healthy Church Member early in 2009 as part of a reading group with a few men. It only took a few days to consume it, but it’s content was meaty enough to chew on for a few weeks following. I have enjoyed the materials coming out of Nine Marks ministries, and this book has found a restful position in my bookshelf. With it’s small frame (117 pages, only 7.1 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches big) it packs a powerful punch. He breaks down the book in the same way Mark Dever breaks down his book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, but adds a 10th mark for good measure. Chapters deal with what a healthy church member is: an expositional listener, a biblical theologian, is gospel saturated, is genuinely converted, is a biblical evangelist, is a committed member, seeks discipline, is a growing disciple, a humble follower and finally, a prayer warrior.

With each chapter only a few pages long (longest is 12 pages) any member of the church, whether young or old, can easily read through this book in a week or two. I’ve found that most church members desire to be a part of a healthy and growing church, but as Thabiti aptly writes,

“The health of the local church depends on the willingness of its members to inspect their hearts, correct their thinking, and apply their hands to the work of the ministry.” (p.15, INTRO).

I believe this book should be on the required reading list for any prospective member of a local church. I cannot recommend a better book than this one for church members to grow in their knowledge on how to better serve Christ in their local church.

Here are a few more books to pick up for further reading about the church: Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris; What is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever, and Why we Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck.

Conversations - Sara Grooves

I was digging up an older CD this past week by Sara Grooves (Conversations, 2001) and enjoying the God-centered lyrics. As my wife reminded me, Sara Groves is really the only female music artist that I listen to, and so when I do listen it’s momentous.

One song stuck out this time around, “This Journey is my Own” where Grooves accurately portrays the struggle we frail humans have to want to be people pleasers rather than God pleasers. I find myself in this familiar boat too many times to count in a given week. In fact this morning while reading a blog post and readying myself to comment I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote before I erased and said to myself, “Am I more concerned about what they might think of me than communicating how that post affected me?” Groves writes:

“So much of what I do is to make a good impression, This journey is my own; And so much of what I say is to make myself look better, But this journey is my own”

If I’m honest with myself I can be tempted in every aspect of my life with seeking other’s approval. I’m thankful for the reminder that I don’t live this life for the gold star of others, but for the Lord. And Grooves aptly ends the song:

“And why would I want to live for man, and pay the highest price, And what does it mean to gain a whole world, only to lose my life; And you can live for someone else, and it will only bring you pain, I can’t even judge myself, only the Lord can say, ‘Well done.’”

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:23-24

It is still quite early in 2010, but so far I am on track in my pursuit to memorize a verse(s) per week for the year. Since I have proven in the past to be horrible at memorizing verses, I have taken greater lengths to keep the verse in front of me for the week.

First, I take one of my Apple stock desktop pictures each week and edit it with the week’s verse.

Verse for this week.

Second, I design some wallpaper for my iPhone with the week’s verse on it.

Verse for this week.

These two things are key for me, because I see each one of these screens multiple times each day. The third thing is to insert the verse into my signature for email’s that week. I type it each time for repetition and to help make it stick in my mind and heart.

Verse from last week.

The forth, and final, thing I do is text the verse to my wife on Monday. This is for two reasons, repetition and to encourage her.

Verse from last week.

So far these four things have worked for me. What works for you to help memorize and retain scripture?

My pastor would get a kick out of this…

HT: Justin Taylor

My Pastor Frank Emrich preached this past Sunday about starting the year off right with an attitude of thankfulness.

Let me give you a little taste,

Thankfulness does this:

  1. It honors God
  2. Makes prayer effectual
  3. Keeps us from sinning.

Listen to the whole sermon here.


Today is my little girl’s birthday and she turns four! Happy Birthday Madelyn!

January 4th 2006

January 4th 2007

January 4th 2008

January 4th 2009

Our Four Year Old

This morning at church I was reminded again of how much obedience is required in the Christian life. As our Pastor preached out of Ephesians 5 concerning the Holy Spirit’s promptings and convicting presence in our lives, I was moved that I must not quench Him.

In the same vein, as a parent teaching our children obedience is hard but necessary. It is not always the most enjoyable thing. In the 3-4 year old stage with our daughter we have made an obedience jar

The Obedience Jar

to encourage the need to obey. When we ask her to do something, e.g. hanging up her jacket or putting her toys away and she does it without another prompting, we say she can put something in the obedience jar and she is thrilled to do it. But sometimes she just doesn’t want to do it. She would say she doesn’t feel like it. She chooses to disobey.

I relate that back to our walk with Lord. I have countless opportunities to obey the Spirit’s promptings in a day, but there are times in which I completely disregard Him because I don’t feel like obeying.

I am thankful for the reminder this morning; obedience is not an option… obedience is a command.

I’ve been reading Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp. I came across this paragraph that struck such deep chords with me,

“The problem with relationships is that they all take place right smack-dab in the middle of something, and that something is the story of redemption.

photo credit: Tyler Stalman/Istock

God’s plan to turn everything in our lives into instruments of Christlike change and growth. You and I never get to be married to a fully sanctified spouse. We will never be in a relationship with a completely mature friend. We will never live next to a neighbor utterly free of the need to grow and change. We will never have self-parenting children. We will never be near people who always think, desire, say, or do the right things. And the reason for all of this is that our relationships are lived between the already and the not yet.”

Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (Glenside: New Growth, 2008), 108.

We set a few family goals for 2010 last night, and one of our goals is to memorize a verse each week (one a month for Madelyn our 4 year old). Feel free to join with us or maybe just quiz us 🙂

2010 Coulter Family Memory Verses


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I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers