Daily Light – Dec 5, 2019

Today’s Daily Light 

(Friends:  I have always been a reluctant ‘sufferer’.  There is nothing about pain and suffering, grief or sorrow, that I find myself easily embracing.  Thus I confess to you that I do not post today’s article as ‘if’ I am a mature ‘sufferer’.  I am not.  I do wish to be all He desires me to be, by His will, mercy, and grace.  Amen).

Someone Needs to See You Suffer Well

Article by Marshall Segal, Staff writer, desiringGod.org

Few things fortify the soul against Satan’s deception like watching another Christian suffer with persevering faith. When we watch others walk through the valley of the shadow of death with purpose and joy in God, through ups and downs, their faithfulness and endurance inspire fresh hopefulness and vigilance. Elisabeth Elliot has been that kind of person for me (and countless others).

She and her husband, Jim, married on the mission field in Ecuador in 1953. Just three years later, Jim was speared to death, along with four other men, by the Huaorani tribe he was trying to reach with the gospel. Elisabeth received the news while caring for their 10-month-old daughter, Valerie. She writes,

God’s presence with me was not Jim’s presence. That was a terrible fact. God’s presence did not change the terrible fact that I was a widow. . . . Jim’s absence thrust me, forced me, hurried me to God, my hope and my only refuge. And I learned in that experience who God is. Who he is in a way I could never have known otherwise. (Suffering Is Never for Nothing, 15)

She married again after sixteen years, only to lose her second husband, Addison, less than four years later, to cancer. Some have suffered more, to be sure, but not most of us. And few have championed the precious good God can do through the terrible facts in our lives like Elisabeth did. Her testimony reminds me of another sufferer, the apostle Paul, who endured sorrow after sorrow with great joy and enduring faith.

Suffering Is Not a Detour

Prison was no detour for Paul. While anyone, even Christians, might have been prone to pity him, he saw the startling potential in his imprisonment. The worst hardships, he knew, were often the greatest highways for the gospel. He writes, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me” — wrongfully arrested, incarcerated, and left for dead (Philippians 1:20) — “has really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). The gospel did not survive his imprisonment, but prospered while he suffered — no, because he suffered.

None of us naturally responds this way to suffering. Unexpected turbulence in life does not naturally overflow in bright hope and selfless love. Apart from grace, suffering makes us impatient, selfish, and despairing. We withdraw, turn inward, and are less concerned with (or even aware of) the needs of others. We often cannot see beyond the darkness we feel.

But the grace of God goes to work to create the opposite impulses, especially in suffering. Suffering was not a distraction, inconvenience, or detour for Paul, but a breakthrough for what he cared most about: the spread of the gospel and the glory of Jesus.

“Your suffering is not a detour.” 

Suffering Reveals What We Treasure

How did the gospel run while Paul sat alone in a cell? He tells us in the next verse:

It has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Philippians 1:13–14)

Suffering faithfully catalyzes the gospel in at least two great ways. First, suffering reveals our purpose and treasure like comfort and security do not. Everyone knew Paul was in prison for Christ (Philippians 1:13). Many were only exposed to his love for Jesus because he was mistreated and confined. If he did not suffer, they would not have been so powerfully confronted with his joy and message.

“Many will not be curious about the hope within us unless we suffer something that requires hope.”

Many in the imperial guard, for instance, may have never heard the gospel at all if Paul had not been locked away there. Many will not be curious about the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15) unless we suffer something that requires hope (1 Peter 3:13). Satan may still believe that a thick fog of suffering will obscure the faithfulness of God (Job 1:9–11), but faithful suffering brings his glory into greater, more compelling clarity. When you suffer, think about the people watching you suffer, and what they’re learning about Jesus.

Nothing Advances the Gospel Like Suffering

Suffering also catalyzes the gospel by encouraging and emboldening other sufferers. Again, Paul says,

Most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Philippians 1:14)

His enemies, in Jerusalem and in the spiritual realm, conspired to silence him in prison, but they could not stop, or even slow, the gospel. Their failed attempts to crush Paul’s spirit and testimony only threw gas on the fire of his ministry. As he suffered well, others said more, and more boldly. Who might finally speak up for Jesus because they saw you joyfully suffer for Jesus?

Nothing advances the gospel like suffering. For those who love God, all things not only “work together for good” (Romans 8:28), but work together to perfectly display the wisdom, power, and love of God. Against all our worst fears and assumptions, suffering well actually proves the gospel’s power over and over again, and spurs the spread of the gospel further and faster by inspiring boldness in others.

Don’t assume your suffering is a detour. Suffering may hinder or even halt a hundred things in our lives, but God loves to use our griefs to magnify our small visions of him. And suffering makes the gospel run with a pace unknown in prosperity.

Someone Needs to See You Suffer Well

As is often the case in God’s word, the words we may easily overlook in Philippians 1:12–14 might be the most instructive: “I want you to know . . . ” Even while Paul suffered in extraordinary and horrible ways, he was more concerned for others’ faith and joy in Jesus than he was for his circumstances.

“Suffering reveals our purpose and treasure like comfort and security do not.”

Paul wanted others to know that God can be trusted, no matter what comes, that the gospel cannot and will not be suppressed, that Jesus really is worth everything we might suffer. He is not writing, even from prison, to garner their pity or sympathy, but to rouse and fortify their devotion. What if we suffered with eyes like his, seeing the remarkable opportunity to encourage and inspire other believers, especially those who are suffering?

Paul writes elsewhere,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3–4)

We don’t know all of God’s good purposes in suffering, but we do know that he uses our suffering to prepare us to comfort others. That means we often suffer, sometimes severely, in ways we don’t understand now, because we haven’t met the person who will one day be comforted by our story. Greater suffering requires greater comfort from God, which makes us greater comforters for others.

Deepest Waters and Hottest Fires

After all Elisabeth Elliot lost and endured, she could say,

The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God. (Suffering Is Never for Nothing, 9)

When deep waters and hot fires come, I want to know God like she did — and I want to help others suffer great pain and loss with as much spiritual fruit and hope in God.

Elliot lost a husband to murder and another to cancer. Paul suffered imprisonment, slander, beatings, and worse. The severity of their suffering, however, does not make their suffering irrelevant to ours. Whatever suffering God brings — whatever pain, whatever disappointment, whatever trial, however big or small — we should want to be able to say with Paul, “It has become known to all that my suffering is for Christ.”

We want others to finally meet Jesus because they saw him in how patiently we responded to unexpected delays at work. We want a brother or sister in the Lord to press on because we kept praising the Lord when the car broke down again or the basement flooded. We want another believer to speak up about Jesus because we shared with, and were rejected by, another neighbor. We want whatever we suffer, however big or small, to make God look more trustworthy and satisfying for anyone who might see how we suffer.

Someone needs to see you suffer well with Jesus. People need to see you clinging to his promises, treasuring his friendship, and praising his name when life is falling in on you. Some may not know how much they need to see you endure because their suffering hasn’t come yet. But it will. And when it comes, they will remember the saints who they have seen suffer well.

Marshall Segal (@marshallsegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have a son and live in Minneapolis.

Daily Light – Dec 4, 2019

You Can Be Anxious About Nothing

Article by Kim Cash Tate

 “Do not be anxious about anything.” The familiar words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians present something of a paradox — we love them adorned on artsy frames, on the one hand, and find them seemingly impossible to put into practice, on the other.

If we’re honest, we may secretly believe that we get a pass from obeying this particular command. We tell ourselves that it simply can’t mean anything. Not when we suffer trials that are altogether devastating. Surely God knows our human frame. He knows we can’t control the anxious thoughts that bombard us — nor the shortness of breath, the heart racing, or the restless nights that can accompany those thoughts.

“As we pray, lingering in God’s presence, everything else has to bow.”

Alternatively, we tell ourselves that “do not be anxious about anything” is for the spiritually mature saint, a verse to aspire to. And since we’re not there yet, we can dismiss this direct command for a while. Moreover, we’re careful not to burden others with it. If a fellow believer is battling anxious thoughts, we think it insensitive to bring this verse to bear on the situation. Better to show sympathy than to risk sounding trite.

But God has not given us an impossible standard or one to be attained only by spiritual growth. He’s telling us what’s possible by his Spirit. He knows the crippling effects of anxiety, and he’s telling us we needn’t submit to its tyranny. He’s blessing us with divine direction as to how to receive supernatural help.

Call to Prayer

Anxiety consumes. It commands the breadth of our thoughts, and fills them with dread. Unfurling its scroll of worst-case scenarios, it extinguishes hope and pummels our faith. A favorite tool of the enemy, it’s effective in silencing God’s voice and trumpeting our fears.

When we’re hit with the cares of this world, it’s hard to avoid those anxious thoughts. Our God knows. “Do not be anxious about anything” doesn’t mean we will never feel anxious. The verse is telling us what to do with it — give it to God. It reads in its entirety:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

We can be anxious for nothing because in everything — each and every trying situation — we are involving the God of the universe. Rather than bear the load ourselves and allow it to cripple us, we take it immediately to God, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Prayer Redirects Us to God

Prayer redirects our attention from the all-consuming problem to our all-powerful God. Before our thoughts can rehearse every hopeless scenario that could attend the problem, we intentionally set our minds on things above. We’re reminded that we have hope and help. We’re reminded that even this hardship is subject to the sovereignty of God, and that he remains in control.

“God knows the crippling effects of anxiety, and he’s telling us we needn’t submit to its tyranny.”

And we pray against anxiety with thanksgiving because we know that God is good. Our perspective transforms when we cast the current dilemma in the light of who God is and all that he has done. We can never thank God enough for sending his Son, for the gift of eternal life, and for blessing us with every spiritual blessing.

As we pray, lingering in God’s presence, everything else has to bow. Prayer silences our anxious thoughts, and positions us to hear from God, including reminders of precious promises such as this: He is faithful.

Call to War

“Do not be anxious about anything” is also a call to spiritual warfare. It’s telling us to stay poised to reject every uprising of temptation. When a hardship hits and our minds begin to spin out of control, a battle is being waged. Galatians 5:17 is instructive:

The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Our flesh wants to be in control. It bears the burden of the hardship and works to figure out how to handle it. And when it determines that the hardship is beyond its capabilities — when we can’t see a satisfactory solution — anxiety sets in. This posture is at odds with the Spirit who implores us as believers to trust God — to walk by faith and not by sight.

This was the central issue when Moses, at God’s direction, sent twelve men to spy out the land God had promised. Ten of them couldn’t shake their anxiety over the giants that currently resided in the land. It didn’t matter that they’d already seen God’s faithfulness in fighting for them against a mighty enemy, Egypt. It didn’t matter that they’d seen God do miracles, most notably the parting of the Red Sea. In their minds, they could never defeat this fearsome enemy. Thus, they lost hope, saying, “We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them” (Numbers 13:33).

“Prayer redirects our attention from the all-consuming problem to our all-powerful God.”

Only two of the spies — Joshua and Caleb — understood that the true battle was in their souls. They didn’t need to fear the giants; they needed to remember that “the Lord is with us” (Numbers 14:9). Joshua and Caleb implored the people to trust God and go forth, knowing that with him they would overcome. These two men could be anxious for nothing because they believed God and walked by faith.

Promise of Protection

That Philippians 4:6 verse which tells us, “do not be anxious about anything,” but in everything to pray with thanksgiving, is followed by this:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)

This is such a powerful promise. Such grace. When we look to the Lord in the midst of anxiety, his peace will guard our hearts and minds. In other words, his peace will stand at the gates, refusing to allow anxious thoughts to enter.

But, you may say, I’ve prayed, and those thoughts keep coming. Keep praying. In Christ, our lifestyle is prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We stay ever clinging to our Savior, mindful that apart from him we can do nothing. We can’t fight the battle without him. But with him, no matter what anxious thoughts may come, his peace is our most powerful protection. In Christ, we are promised a never-ending supply of grace.

Kim Cash Tate (@kimcashtate) is a wife, mom, YouTuber, and author of several books, including, most recently, Cling: Choosing a Lifestyle of Intimacy with God. She and her husband, Bill, live in Saint Louis.

Daily Light – Dec 3, 2019

This Advent Will Change You

The Habit of Waiting for Christmas

Article by David Mathis, Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

Advent is finally here.

Over the years, in the days following Thanksgiving, I have reached instinctively for two prized possessions. One is a Beach Boys Christmas compact disc I came into sometime in the late 90s, a tradition which now has slowly but sweetly faded away. The other item, which has served my soul much better, and continues to do so to this day, is Donald Macleod’s book The Person of Christ. I’ve taken Advent as an annual reminder to take up reading on christology. I try to branch out some each year, but it always includes at least a little rereading of Macleod.

The opportunity of Advent, to remember the real reason for Christmas, is perhaps all the more poignant in our increasingly secular society. With every passing year, we have to be more vigilant, even aggressive and relentless, to remind ourselves, and our children, and our churches, what really is the heart and inspiration of Christmas.

Habits for the Holidays

We are, by nature, creatures of habit. Such is not the product of the fall, but of God’s good design. Good habits help us flourish by enlisting our subconscious to carry out repeated functions so that we can direct our limited bit of attentiveness and conscious intentionality elsewhere.

Of course, sin plays havoc with our habits too, but an important part of practical redemption and holiness, by the power of the gospel and God’s Spirit, is the creation, over time, of new habits — habits of holiness and fellowship, daily habits of hearing God’s voice in his word and having his ear in prayer, and weekly habits of belonging to, and gathering with, his body in worship.

“Advent will confront you, and make you more like Scrooge or more like the shepherds.”

Habits, however, are not just daily and weekly but annual as well. God made seasons (Genesis 1:14). He made us to feel something deep down in those first days of spring, in the hottest days of summer, in the coziness of fall, and in the first snow-fly of winter. And for Christians, we have long linked the month of December with the birth of our Savior, and anticipated one of our two highest feast days with essentially a month of liturgical anticipation called “Advent.”

Season of Waiting

One vital aspect and offering of this season is often missed today: Advent is a season of waiting. Whereas Lent, as a season, encourages a kind of whole-life consecration in anticipating the marking of Jesus’s final week — and especially his sacrificial death for us on Good Friday, and his victorious resurrection for us on Easter Sunday — Advent’s particular note is one of patient waiting.

Each year, in our month of waiting to mark the arrival of God himself in human flesh, we remember the people of God who waited centuries — centuries! — for the coming of the promised Messiah to rescue them. They had God’s promises: a “seed of the woman” who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15Romans 16:20), a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:1518Acts 3:227:37), a priest who would surpass the first-covenant order (Psalm 110:4Hebrews 5:4–67:11–17), a son of king David and heir to his throne (Isaiah 9:7Matthew 1:122:42) who would be greater than David, as his Lord (Psalm 110:1). For centuries, God’s people waited.

They “did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us” (Hebrews 11:39–40). We now live in the era of the Messiah. Christ has come as the climax of history and shown us the Father and his purposes. It is good for us, though, to rehearse the patient waiting and anticipation of God’s ancient people to renew and deepen our appreciation of what we now have in him.

For this reason, Advent is a season of minor chords, captured so well in “O Come, O Come, Immanuel.” As we wait, we replay the centuries of longing and yearning that preceded the coming of Christ, and in doing so, our joy in and gratitude for what we have in Christ deepens and enriches and sweetens. And we too live with longing and yearning — for Jesus’s second coming — even as our waiting now takes on a fundamentally new shape, and rises to previously unforeseen levels of hope and anticipation, and joy in the waiting, because of his first coming.

Then, on Christmas Day, those minor chords break into the bright, festive major chords of “Joy to the World,” resolving the tension of ages past, even as they point us to the second coming for which we hope.

Advent Will Change You

God’s good and powerful gift of habit teaches us an important truth for the Advent season: Holidays and feasts not only fill our mouths with laughter, and bellies with food, but shape our souls, for good or ill.

“As we wait, we replay the centuries of longing and aching anticipation that preceded the coming of Christ.”

December is the single most distinctive month in our society. It has its own special décor and music. It has the most distinguishing feel. Few publicly dispute its claim to being “the most wonderful time of the year”; most play along. Now December is here, and you cannot help but be affected. Advent will confront you, and make you more like Scrooge or more like the shepherds, who glorified and praised God (Luke 2:20). Come December 25, you will be different, to some degree, whether more like Herod or more like the magi, who “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10).

This Advent will change you. You will not be the same afterwards. You will be the better for it, or the worse. Every Advent matters. Will you be closer to Christ come December 25 or further away? Will you be softer to him or more callous? Will more fog lie between your eyes and his face, or will you see him with greater clarity and savor him with greater fervor? Will you know and enjoy Jesus more?

Come, Let Us Adore Him

Let’s not go through the motions this Advent. Let’s approach the season by faith (Romans 14:23), as God’s people, for Christ’s honor and our joy in him. Join us this Advent in admiring the diverse excellencies of Christ: he is God and man, holy and virgin-born, upholding the universe by the power of his words and lying swaddled in a manger.

Would you make a particular effort with us to see and savor the person of Christ this Advent? He is worthy of our best daily, weekly, and annual habits.

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

Daily Light – Dec 2, 2019

Why Do I Still Struggle with My Pre-Conversion Sins?

From an interview with John Piper

Why do my pre-conversion sins still haunt me? That’s the question. Here’s the email. “Hello, Pastor John! My name is Rico, and I have a question about past sins resurfacing. Before I was saved, a little over a year and a half ago, I was pretty badly addicted to drugs. I met the Lord Jesus, and literally all the desires to pursue drugs went away — until about April of this year. I’ve fallen a few times, but God has been very gracious and merciful to me in carrying me through these rough times when I’ve fallen. So I guess what I’m asking is, How does this come about? I thought I was done with that part of my life — for good! Why are my pre-conversion sin patterns coming back now?”

Rico, let me give a short description of what the Bible teaches about what has already happened to you as a born-again believer in Jesus, and what has not yet happened to you. And this will give you some biblical ways of thinking about what you are actually experiencing. Let’s put this description of the already of your life and the not-yet of your life into the larger biblical description of what Christ has already done in the world, and what he has not yet done in the world.

Thy Kingdom Came

When Christ came into the world (you know this), he preached the kingdom of God. And in that preaching, he said two things:

“You are in heaven with Christ; now fight the sins of earth.”

1. The kingdom is here. It’s here right now: “Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21). “I am the King. My rule has arrived. In my miracles, in my teaching, in my perfections, in my love, in my death for sinners, in my resurrection, I am showing that my kingdom, my rule, my saving reign is here. The long-hoped-for, waited-for kingdom has come.” That’s the first crucial thing — essential thing — for Christianity to say.

2. “My kingdom is coming and is not yet here.” Luke 22:18: “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” What? I thought you said it had come. Why are you saying it’s coming? It’s coming, but not yet. So, in the big picture of history, the kingdom of God has already come in the person and work of Jesus. And yet, it has not yet fully come, completely come — not yet come with the fullest consummation.

I remember reading George Ladd one time, one of my New Testament professors years ago. He said, “The mystery of the kingdom is fulfillment without consummation.” Fulfillment without consummation — that captures the tension. Yes, the kingdom has come. The time is fulfilled. It is here. Repent. The King has come. But the consummation — there are so many things left that are not yet done that the kingdom promised to do. And that tension, Rico, affects virtually every part of the Christian life, including your struggle with past sins, including drugs.

New and Old in Five Pictures

So, how does this work itself out in the life of individual Christians? Here are just a few biblical descriptions of the already–not yet reality in the Christian life.

1. Colossians 1:13–14: “[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Wow, that’s already done — already transferred out of darkness into the kingdom of the Son. Glorious. That’s awesome. And then Colossians 3:3 says, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” It’s over. You’ve already passed beyond death. You are secure and hidden with Christ in God.

But now comes Colossians 3:5, with this imperative that suggests something is very much not complete. It says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” And we could add drugs. That needs to be done, Rico. It needs to be done. You are in heaven with Christ; now fight the sins of earth. You have died; therefore, put to death the old habits. And notice the therefore. The battle with sins that are not yet destroyed is because of the already being dead with Christ and being seated at his right hand.

2. Here’s another picture of it in Romans 6:6: “We know that our old self was crucified with [Christ].” We’re done. It’s over. We’ve died. Romans 6:11: “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Because something is not yet complete. You’ve got something to do with this. So again, the command to complete this, finish this, to bring your life into accord with your deadness, is based on the fact that you’re already dead.

3. Romans 6:12 says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body.” That’s the not-yet. And now the already of Romans 6:14, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Don’t let sin reign because it won’t reign. There’s the Christian way of life.

“Your new self has been created. It’s the work of God. You’re not forging a new self in Christ.”

4. First Corinthians 5:7 talks about getting sexual sin out of the church and out of our lives. It says, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump.” So it’s picturing the church and the Christian life as a lump of dough, and leaven as sin penetrating the lump. It says, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.” So again, the command about getting out the leaven is based on the fact that there’s not any leaven. There’s the glorious already–not yet mystery as it applies to the Christian life. We are becoming what we are.

5. Ephesians 4:24: “Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” So put on what already has been created. Your new self has been created. It’s the work of God. You’re not forging a new self in Christ. You’re not. You’re not forging a new self in Christ. God made that. He created that. It’s already created, but you must put it on. Own it. Wear it. Become in practice what you are in Christ.

Become Who You Are

So, Rico, your ongoing struggle with sin is nothing new.

You already are new in Christ, and you are not yet perfected.

You are dead, and must put sin to death.

You are raised with Christ, and you must seek the things that are above.

You are a new self, and you must put on the new self.

You are unleavened, and you must cleanse out the old leaven.

Sin will not be king in your life, and you must not let sin have dominion.

And so here’s the key: every imperative, every command, every exhortation, every admonition given to a Christian should be passionately pursued and obeyed on the basis of what’s already true about us in Christ. We are commanded to become what we are in Christ.

So, what you are experiencing is the reality of what Paul calls in Romans 7:20 indwelling sin — the not-yet of sanctification. And you are now to put that sin to death because you have already died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. So, Rico, may God take this biblical picture of salvation deep into your life, and give you a great freedom.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.