Thursday, May 24, 2018

In His Image, by Jen Wilkin {Book Review}

In His Image

Jen Wilkin's newest book, In His Image, continues the consideration of God's attributes which she began in her book None Like Him:10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing). The earlier book focused on characteristics of God which are unique to Him and not transferred ("communicated") to believers in Christ; attributes like omniscience, omnipresence, and self-existence fall in that category. In His Image, on the other hand, examines God's communicable attributes, characteristics like kindness and holiness which God does work into Christians through the sanctification process as we are conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

Many books already exist on the attributes of God. A. W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy and Arthur Pink's Attributes of God are notable among them, and Wilkin acknowledges her debt to previous writers. What sets Wilkin's book apart? First, her engaging, clear, contemporary writing style and knack for apt illustrations mean that here the cookies are most definitely on the bottom shelf. She communicates rich, challenging content without lofty, hard-to-understand style. Second, her decision to place the incommunicable and communicable attributes of God in separate volumes adds clarity and, I suspect, has a teaching benefit in keeping the categories clearer for readers. Third, each chapter closes with Scripture references and reflection questions. This book and its companion volume are excellently suited for use as small-group or one-on-one discipleship materials, or in a book club focused on Christian books. The general index, Scripture index, and blank pages for notes and reflection also suit such a purpose.

Perhaps most distinctive, however, is Wilkin's thesis.The first chapter explains in her own words:
My explicitly stated intention for this book is that we learn to identify God’s will for our lives. Our inclination is to discern God’s will by asking, “What should I do?” But God’s will concerns itself primarily with who we are, and only secondarily with what we do. By changing the question and asking, “Who should I be?” we see that God’s will is not concealed from us in his Word, but is plainly revealed.
The Bible plainly answers the question “Who should I be?” with “Be like Jesus Christ, who perfectly images God in human form.” God’s will for our lives is that we conform to the image of Christ, whose incarnation shows us humanity perfectly conformed to the image of God. In this book, we will consider how we can demonstrate a resemblance to our Maker. But since the Bible’s answer to “Who should I be?” is “Be like the very image of God,” we must ask, “Who is God?” (pp. 21-22).

If I have ever encountered God's attributes or the question of finding God's will expressed and organized in quite this way before, I don't recall it. The way Wilkin lays it out here, however, is so clear and consistent with Scripture that I wonder why I didn't see it before. Christians are called and enabled to be holy, loving, good, just, merciful, faithful, gracious, faithful, patient, truthful, and wise because the triune God is, and the Spirit of God dwells in us.

Here are a few more quotes to whet your appetite and nourish your soul:
  • "God’s discipline is his justice without wrath, for the purpose of training us in godliness" (64).
  • "Abundance. Initially, grace is unasked for and undesired. God in his sovereignty extends grace to us before we can even contemplate its possibility or its worth. Eternally, grace is unearned and undeserved. We grow to recognize it for what it is, and we even become increasingly bold to ask for it in greater measure. But the moment we begin to ask out of a sense of entitlement, we contaminate grace. To demand it is to defile it." (87).
  • "The Bible is our great Ebenezer, a memorial stone to the faithfulness of God, carefully recorded and preserved for his children. When we grow forgetful of God, or when we question whether God has forgotten us, we can turn there to gaze on his steadfast love to all generations" (100).
  • "Every entertainment of temptation questions the goodness of God" (103).
  • "Becoming better people is the process of reflecting with increasing clarity and fidelity the very face of God. God’s will for our lives is that we be restored to mint condition. God’s will for our lives is that we become living proof. Everything we say or do will either illuminate or obscure the character of God. Sanctification is the process of joyfully growing luminous. Through Christ and by the Spirit, we have regained access to God’s presence. And the result is the glorious reclamation of the image of God in man" (153).
To sum up, I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend In His Image to anyone wanting to know God more, searching for God's will for her life, or looking for a substantial but not overwhelming discipleship resource. The two-volume set of None Like Him and In His Image would make an excellent graduation gift with lasting impact. Readers already familiar with older classics on God's character will also benefit from Wilkin's clarity and emphasis on application, which is to say, the call to grow more like Christ.

Crossway provided me a complimentary PDF copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The links in this post are Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Maker God: A Poem {Dallas Arboretum, Spring 2018}

O God,
Maker of makers,
From dust, not word,
You formed Adam.
Your breath vivified him,
And you placed him in the garden
You made for him
Until he fell.

O God,
Maker of makers,
I also am clay;
You are the Potter.
You have made;
I have marred.
You remade
And remake.

O God,
Maker of makers,
I am the bronze;
You are the sculptor.
Heat me,
Hammer me,
Bend, stretch, twist me
Into Your design and desire.

O God,
Maker of makers,
I am the bronze;
You are the Sculptor.
Melt me,
Refine me,
Pour me into the mold You carved out
With nails,
With thorns,
With scourge.
Bring me out
On the other side of the furnace
Remade in the image of Christ.

Approach to Poetry Garden
Poetry Garden

Woman's Garden

O God,
Maker of makers,
I am Your workmanship,
Your poiema.
The heat, the change, the transformation
Evince Your hands upon me,
Art and Artist as close as fingerprints.

Leave me not unfinished;
Imprint me with Your maker's mark.

Photos were taken at the Dallas Arboretum during the special installation Kinetic Art of Lyman Whitaker. His bronze sculptures were not static. They whirled and spun in the breeze, changing with each millisecond. This is the last of the planned Arboretum posts. Thank you for reliving the journey with me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dallas Arboretum, Spring 2018 {Water, Water Everywhere}

North Texas is not currently in a season of drought, so Amore and I were able to enjoy the full delights of an arboretum full of water features and the joy they bring to the ears as well as the eyes. We gazed out over White Rock Lake to the skyline and a mansion that made me think of Tara. These photos won't do the beauty justice, I know, but I pray they refresh and encourage your soul today.

Most importantly, may they draw your heart towards Jesus, who alone gives us living water and satisfies our thirsty souls. Everything else is a leaky cistern compared with Him.  He can refresh our spirits even when our bodies are weary and hurting and our hearts are aching. He can revive our hearts to follow Him fully for one more day. Come to Him and drink freely of His grace and life, dear Crumbles.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water" (John 4:9-25).

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39).

As delightful as all these fountains and streams were, how much more blessed will the river of the water of life in the eternal kingdom of God be:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price (Revelation 22:1-3, 17).

May the Good Shepherd lead you beside waters of rest, beloved. May He restore your soul. May He lead you in paths of righteousness for His name's sake (Psalm 23:2-3). Amen.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dallas Arboretum, Spring 2018 {Rose Garden}

Our first stop after lunch at the DeGolyer Restaurant was the rose gardens. Except for the amaryllis and a few lonely irises, the spring bulbs have long since bloomed out, but we found the roses at the perfect time. We even caught a glimpse of Cinderella under the bower of pink roses. :) I pray these photos refresh your spirit.

O dear Lord Jesus,
Thou lovest me,
I do not know at all
How that can be.

But, dear Lord Jesus,
I know it's true,
True as that grass is green,
And skies are blue.
So, dear Lord Jesus,
Help me to be
Thy loving little child,
Pleasing to Thee.

~Amy Carmichael, Dohnavur Songs,