Thriving At College

With student debt at an all-time high (over one trillion dollars in the USA), and one out of two new graduates unemployed or underemployed, it’s imperative that we equip our young people to launch successfully into their adult years.  About 70% of this year’s graduating seniors will pursue college this Fall, but past data suggests that approximately 30% of them will not successfully advance to their second year.

My friend Alex Chediak has written a wonderful book entitled Thriving At College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready For the Real World!

Alex has received several degrees from various institutions, and is a college professor – he knows college! More importantly, Alex is a thoughtful, godly brother in Christ and is concerned for the souls of young people. I give Thriving at College to students at Ephesus Church, and recommend every pastor consider doing the same. I will post a review of Thriving at College soon. In the mean time, check out these links:

1. Thriving at College was highlighted on two episodes of Focus on the Family, and the audio messages are available (episode one, episode two).

2. A short parent-child discussion guide is available as a free PDF download to help parents start talking to their kids about going to college.

3. This 800 word guest post at the Desiring God blog unpacks several principles on how to thrive at college.

4. Thriving at College is currently selling for only $7.99 (47% off), and $7.00/copy (for two copies or more), with free shipping on orders over $49.  (Offer good until June 8.)

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May Book of the Month: The Greener Grass Conspiracy

This month’s book was a huge help to me last year when I read it for the first time, and I’m excited to read it again. Stephen Altrogge is a great writer, and has a wonderful sense of humor. Most importantly, he understands the Scriptures and what God calls his people to: contentment. If you find that you often have a restless soul, this book should be a great help to you. Read it thoughtfully and prayerfully, and I will pray that you are able to find contentment on your side of the fence!

Get it as a Paperback: $10.39, or on Kindle: $7.99

A Rare MUST READ Book

There are very few books that I think a Christian MUST read, and maybe I’ll soon post a list of what I think those books are. But one I want to point out that has quickly moved toward the top of the list is called Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul by Octavius Winslow. If you are prone to backsliding (youare human, aren’t you?!) and discouragement in the Christian walk, get this book and read it every year. Devour it. Think on it. Memorize statements from it. Write down quotes and put them in places where you will read them regularly… it’s that important!

You can get it for $0.99 for Kindle! Go get it… right now!

No seriously, click here and buy it.

Ephesus Church Book of the Month: March

Children of the Living God: Delighting in the Father’s Love By: Sinclair Ferguson (Amazon: $8.00, also available on the Ephesus Church book table)

Jesus Christ taught his disciples to call God “Our Father”, and to live as members of His family. Although simple enough for every Christian to understand this is also so profound that its implications take a lifetime and more to explore fully.

Yet, despite Christ’s words and example, Christians have frequently ignored or forgotten his teaching. In these pages, Sinclair Ferguson reminds us of its importance.

Children of the Living God takes as its starting point the wise and thought-provoking question of an old writer: “If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?” It underlines that we were created for joyful fellowship with God, and explains how we enter his family by new birth and adoption. Its chapters show how the Spirit of sonship, Christian freedom, divine discipline, prayer and the sacraments all contribute to our experience of the love the Father has for his children.

February Book of the Month: The World-Tilting Gospel

The World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips ($12.23, Kindle Edition $9.99)

Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight

The first generation of Christians were not popular. They were ridiculed, persecuted, yet according to Acts 17:6-7, they “turned the world upside down.” As a result, their message was communicated louder and clearer than any message before or since. Even with today’s social medias, big-name celebrities, and shiny evangelism techniques that add glitz and glamour to the gospel, today’s Christians fail to communicate as effectively as the first followers of Christ. Simply put, the early church turned the world upside down, but today’s church has been turned upside down by the world.

A Few Questions to Ask While You Read Your Bible…

When you read your Bible, are you asking questions of the text to develop a greater understanding of what the writers are conveying? Remember, our goal is to know what the text means, not “what does it mean to me?” Quite frankly, what it means to you is of no value. When reading the Bible, we must know what the text is communicating to us because we are learning what God is communicating to us. One of the most effective ways to understand the Bible is by asking questions while you read. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Who is involved? Who is speaking? Who is acting?
  • When did this event take place (what day of week, what hour of the day, relationship to some other event)?
  • Where did the action take place (what city, what specific location such as a home or on a mountain, etc.)?
  • What took place?
  • What sin is presented that I should forsake?
  • What command is given that I should obey?
  • What promise has God made?
  • Why did this event take place?
  • How did the event occur?
  • How do I put the principles taught in the passage into practice?

If you like to journal, or would like to start journaling through your Bible reading, why not use these questions to get started? I guarantee you’ll immediately find yourself enjoying and understanding the Scriptures more than you ever have before.

Devotional Reading

Second only to Bible reading plans at the beginning of each year, I am asked about devotionals that can be read in conjunction with the Scriptures. Devotionals are very helpful, and give us good things to think on throughout each day in addition to the Scripture we’ve read. Admittedly, many devotionals are shallow at best, but there are some that I have found to be helpful, meaty, and worth my reading time.  Here are a few of my suggestions:

Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn ($8.66, Kindle Edition $7.99)

While not necessarily written as a devotional, I have read Note to Self as a devotional and found it to be full of good thoughts to ponder throughout the day in small chunks. In other words, I would typically read a shorter book like this one in a sitting or two – this book is better consumed a chapter per day. And they are only a few pages each, making this an excellent choice for devotional reading.

Morning Thoughts and Evening Thoughts by Octavius Winslow (Kindle Only, $0.99 each)

Winslow was a very well known reformed pastor in the 1800s. His writings are deeply devotional and have proven to be a wonderful balm to my soul on countless occasions. At 99 cents each, these morning and evening thoughts are hard to beat!

Morning and Evening by C.H. Spurgeon ($12.17, Kindle Edition, $0.95)

Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening is a classic devotional read. As with all of Spurgeon’s works, it is highly readable and enjoyable, just as much today as it was in the 1800s. This is also available free online.

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin ($26.28, Kindle Edition $0.99 or Free for download)

Two years ago I followed a daily reading schedule to get through Calvin’s Institutes. It was highly rewarding, and I think something every Christian should do at some point. Many people talk about Calvinism or claim to have an understanding of what Calvin taught without ever actually reading him. Here’s a great way to get through his magnum opus in one year.

Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul Tripp ($10.28, Kindle Edition $7.69)

Tripp wrote 52 short chapters, mainly working through Psalm 51, to address our sin and God’s mercy. Whiter Than Snow is a very rewarding read, and each chapter comes in at 3 pages or less, making it perfect for a devotional.

Tabletalk Magazine by Ligonier Ministries (1 Year subscription, $23)

Ligonier Ministries has published Tabletalk Magazine for many years, and has proven to be an excellent daily devotional for Christians. Tabletalk provides 5, 1-page readings for each week, and lengthy articles on a specific monthly topic to read on the weekends. It is well worth the subscription price.

Operation World by Jason Mandryk ($14.86, also available on the book table at Ephesus Church)

I’ve said many times, I believe Operation World should be in every Christian home. While this isn’t devotional reading, it is the most helpful guide available to walk Christians through praying for every country in the world every year. We have a mandate to pray for the nations and to do all that we can to see the advance of the gospel to the nations. Operation World will be very helpful to you and your family to accomplish that great task.

What devotional would you recommend? Leave your comments below!