As a professor, one of the great benefits of being a part of a church-based school is the opportunity to sharpen and clarify our ideas in the context of a local congregation. I am deeply grateful for this privilege as my second book releases. Entitled The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts, the book explores the tension between a life lived in single-minded pursuit of the glory of God and a life that revels in all of the gifts God supplies. As Christian Hedonists, many of us struggle with knowing precisely what we’re supposed to do with the things of earth that confront us on every side. We know they have the potential to distract us, to become idols, and yet we also know that they are given for our enjoyment by our gracious Heavenly Father.
The book itself was forged in and through the interwoven world of Bethlehem College & Seminary, Bethlehem Baptist Church, and Desiring God. Some of the deep theological groundwork was laid in a class on Jonathan Edwards at the seminary (then called TBI Track Two). Reading The End For Which God Created the World,
my heart and mind were opened to the wonder of God’s trinitarian fullness and the implications of his triune glory for all of life.
In 2012, I had the privilege of moderating a discussion between John Piper and Doug Wilson at the Desiring God Conference for Pastors. That discussion was the culmination of much wrestling on my part regarding the relationship between the infinitely worthy Giver and his delightful gifts. That conversation, and the feedback I received about it, led me to believe that a book on how to honor the Giver by enjoying the gifts was necessary
in our day.
But how to write such a book? Living and ministering at Bethlehem Baptist Church provided the answer. I set out to teach a class at the church on the topic, writing essays that eventually became the chapters of the book. I taught through the content over a semester, revised the content based on the feedback, and then taught through it again in a seminar. I then submitted the proposal to Crossway and was encouraged to revise it and teach through it again. I did so and each time received helpful feedback, additional questions to explore, further problems to address, and new angles that I hadn’t considered. I even had the great privilege of preaching the heart of the message to all three campuses at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
The response to the seminars and sermons, the interaction with students at Bethlehem College & Seminary, as well as conversations with pastors, elders, and members of Bethlehem Baptist Church greatly encouraged me as I sought to refine the message of the book.
And now, after more than five years of thinking and praying and wrestling, the book is available. In order to get a sense of the content, you can read or listen to the following resources:
- The foreword by John Piper
- “Why God Created This World,” a sermon on the heart of the book at Bethlehem Baptist Church
- “Christmas and the Things of Earth,” a blog post at Desiring God
- “I Have a Problem…,” a guest post for the Crossway Blog
- Subscribers to The Worship Initiative can watch me teach through the entire book over the course
of 20 half-hour sessions
For those of you in the Twin Cities area, I’d like to invite you to a special Book Launch Event on January 18, 2015 from 7–9PM at the Downtown Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church. The Bethlehem Bookstore will be selling the book at a great discount, and Matt Reagan, an elder at Bethlehem, will moderate a Q&A session with me on the topic of the book. You can submit questions for the event to [email protected].
Filled with Gratitude to the Giver of All Good Things,
Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview
Bethlehem College & Seminary
Prayer Requests …
- Join us in praising God for his great provision for the 2014 year-end giving!
- Pray that God would continue to meet our needs through the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2015).
- Pray for the 2015 Desiring God Conference for Pastors. We are excited to partner with Desiring God in welcoming pastors, elders, and leaders to the Twin Cities.
- Pray for our students and faculty as they begin classes for the spring semester very soon.