Grace Her Fears Relieved: My Wife’s Salvation Testimony

Today my wife and I are joining Cornerstone Baptist Church of Anacortes, Washington—if the people will have us. As I proofread my wife’s testimony of salvation through Christ, I knew I had to share it on the blog. I do so by permission.

DSC_5715I was not born into a believing family. My parents were successful people, but very far from God. God used their personal struggles to humble them, though they sought first for moral reform through the Mormon church.

But God pursued them still, and when I was 7 my parents were both converted. I’m thankful I was at an age where I could see and process what was happening to our family. The change was dramatic, though not smooth. I saw the cost my parents experienced as they began to follow Christ—and God in His mercy gave me a soft heart to respond to the gospel.

Around the age of nine I began to desire salvation, but because we were in a church that was weak I struggled with confidence in my relationship with God. I prayed regularly to be saved, but as the years went on I became more fearful in my doubt.

At the age of 13 I shared my struggle with my parents, and my dad read John 3 with me and I prayed yet again for God to forgive me for my sin. But the next morning I vividly recall waking up and crying as I realized the uncertainty was still there.

This began a downward spiral of fear and doubt. I reached a low point at the age of 16, when I was so filled with anxiety about the state of my soul that I was unable to eat or sleep normally for weeks on end. My health suffered from the intense strain. My focus was so inward, looking for evidence of Christian growth but always seeing sin marring even my best motives. I had for so many years tried to fix my lack of assurance by meeting with biblical counsellors, walking aisles, getting baptized, doing anything and everything I could—but my real problem was simply a lack of understanding about the nature of God and His disposition toward me. I simply had to take Him at His word, and rest in His commitment to see Jesus’s sacrifice for sin when He looks at me.

It took many months of poring over the Bible in utter desperation, seeking to replace my anxious, erroneous thoughts with God’s true ones. But one beautiful day, I realized with amazement that I wasn’t governed by that doubt anymore. It was a gradual process, but in the end, I could say like David in the Psalms, God truly had delivered me from all my fears.

My New Job

My view of the Skagit Valley out the bus window every morning that it is not raining
My view of the Skagit Valley out the bus window every morning that it is not raining

My new job has mostly jelled: I am paid to put more words on the Internet. I write three to four pieces of content for Faithlife each week and provide sundry other consulting services inside and (a tiny bit, so far) outside the company as a part of a team called the “Logos Pros.” The Pros have academic training and ministry experience, so we know what our customers need. We serve the mission of Faithlife, which in turn is to serve the church by helping Bible students grow in the light of God’s Word. Not so incidentally, the best way to learn Logos is through the training videos done by my very knowledgeable teammates.

And, yes, I get to wear shorts to work on warm days.
Thankful for my standing desk and my own MacBook Pro. This Bible software nerd is all set to serve.

If you want to keep up with what I’m writing, you can log in to your logos.com account and click this mailing lists link. I am responsible for the following lists, and you can check of the boxes to receive them:

  • Bible Study (every week)
  • Logos Pro (every week)
  • Greek (almost every week)
  • Hebrew (I post only once a month here; others write the rest of the posts)

However, pretty much all of my emails are excerpts with a “Read More” link at the end. The Read More link will direct you to one of two places, the Logos Talk Blog or the Logos Academic Blog.

If you want to subscribe to just my posts in a feed reader, I have set up one feed for each blog I write for:

If you don’t care by what method you get notified of my new posts, then sign up for my email lists instead of using a feed aggregator. Your engagement—your clicks and shares—help me help the church in a small way. I have very much enjoyed the engagement with readers I’ve had so far; love for them is a daily reality that drives my writing. Faithlife is paying me not just to sell—though I’m happy to do that, because I believe in and use the product—but to serve.

How to Listen to YouTube Lectures as Podcasts

(I kind of already posted on this, but I just have to update you on my workflow.)

511YS3hyhqL 31oQY9K3UjLI am all the time seeing YouTube lectures I want to listen to—that’s right, listen to, not watch. I just can’t watch a YouTube lecture. I’m distracted by all the other things I need to do on my computer. But if I can listen to the lecture on my bluetooth headset or my shower-room speaker (where has it been all my life?!), then I can get through it while doing other things. Getty ready, doing dishes, commuting. I get through a lot of great stuff that I never could get through before I had these tools. And though the goal here is not to feed as much information through my mind as I can, I find that if I listen during suitable times I really do profit from what I hear.

Here’s my workflow, and it all happens super fast:

  1. Find YouTube video I want to hear; copy link to it.
  2. Paste link into onlinevideoconverter.com.
  3. Choose appropriate settings so my file isn’t too big (see gif below; this step is very important):Screen Capture on 2015-11-19 at 15-39-20
  4. Download file into my personal podcast folder in Dropbox, powered by JustCast, which automatically sends the file to my personal podcast feed.
  5. Open up Overcast app on my phone, which has already downloaded the lecture in the background.
  6. Listen and gain wisdom, hopefully.
  7. Possibly share the podcast with friends through Overcast. (Shared page looks like this.)

One big advantage of this system is that when I’m done with the lecture, it goes away forever. I don’t have to fiddle with it. But I can find it again if I need to by going to my Dropbox folder.

Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption

Cover Image

I finally got my copy. It’s the culmination of my nine years at BJU Press and the one book of mine most likely to actually get read: Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption, a 12th grade Bible textbook for Christian and home schools. But I can’t say the book is “mine,” exactly. For the record (mine as much as yours), here are the chapters, along with a summary and an indication of whether I wrote them or not.

If you like my blog, you’ll like this book. There’s more than an echo of my blog concerns (faithful readers might even recognize a few blog posts; I checked with myself and granted myself permission to use them). I encourage you to buy a copy even if you aren’t a student.

WORLDVIEW

1 Worldviews – Mark Ward
  • Introduces the concept of worldview using the primary metaphor of lenses.
  • Defines worldview as 1) a head-heart system that 2) tells a master story and 3) produces the group action we call culture.
  • Shows briefly how the Creation, Fall, Redemption story of Scripture constitutes the “big story” of the Christian worldview
2 Presuppositions – Mark Ward
  • Discusses the role of evidence and presuppositions in the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Argues that truth is ultimately taken on authority.
3 The Two-Story View – Mark Ward
  • Critiques the secular view in which the lower story of facts is cut off from the upper story of human values.
  • Argues that a biblical view of Redemption precludes the two-story view.

CREATION

4 God the Creator – Mark Ward
  • Bases creation firmly in the intra-trinitarian love of God, a la Edwards.
  • Argues that God’s glory is His ultimate goal in all He does.
  • Analyzes major alternatives to biblical theism (materialism, pantheism, dualism, deism)
5 Man and His Mandate – Mark Ward
  • Explores the meaning and implications of the image of God in man.
  • Explores the meaning and implications of the Creation Mandate of Gen. 1:26–28.
  • Demonstrates that culture flows from the Creation Blessing of Gen. 1:26–28.
6 Everything God Made Was Very Good – Mark Ward
  • Examines ways in which the fall is pinned unfairly on elements of God’s good creation instead of on human religious mutiny.
  • Describes the “creational norms” God built into our universe.

FALL

7 Far as the Curse Is Found – Mark Ward
  • Details the personal, cultural, and cosmic effects of the fall.
8 Common Grace, the World, and You – Mark Ward
  • Explains the biblical doctrine of common grace.
  • Contrasts worldliness and asceticism, proposing that believers are properly seen as pilgrims and ambassadors.
  • Argues that affection drives cognition.
9 Structure and Direction – Mark Ward
  • Introduces the concepts of structure and direction.
  • Explains the structure of sexuality and the evil and good directions in which it is pointed.

REDEMPTION

10 An Everlasting Kingdom – Bryan Smith
  • Provides an overview of the entire storyline of the Bible, structured by the biblical covenants and culminating in the restoration of God’s good creation.
11 Redeemed for Good Works – Bryan Smith and Mark Ward
  • Urges lives of good works and witness in the gap between the already and the not yet.
  • Critiques theonomy/Christian Reconstructionism.
12 The Mission of the Church and Your Vocation – Brian Collins
  • Explains the mission of the church in this age.
  • Explores the biblical doctrine of vocation.

MARRIAGE, GENDER ROLES & FAMILY

13 The Man and the Woman in Creation – Mark Ward (based on research by Greg Stiekes)
  • Lays out God’s revealed design for marriage and gender roles.
  • Discusses the role played by the nuclear family in the biblical narrative.
  • Discusses gender roles in society.
14 Marriage Twisted – Mark Ward (based on research by Greg Stiekes)
  • Exposes the ways marriage, gender, and sexuality are twisted in this fallen world.
  • Views the “Gay Christian” movement through the lenses of a biblical worldview.
  • Discusses the topics of cohabitation and divorce.
15 Marriage Redeemed – Greg Stiekes
  • Lays out a vision for redeemed marriages, families, and gender roles.

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

16 Foundations of Government – Brian Collins
  • Roots government in God’s design as opposed to a social contract.
  • Argues that justice is the foundational reason for government to exist in a created (not just a fallen) world.
  • Explores different types of governmental structure.
17 Political Perspectives – Brian Collins
  • Exposes the idols underlying various political ideologies, including liberalism, socialism, and conservatism.
18 The End of Government – Brian Collins
  • Explores the various major models of church-state relations from the perspective of a biblical worldview.
  • Offers counsel for Christians to act prudently in politics.

SCIENCE

19 Science Is Something God Created Humans to Do – Mark Ward
  • Shows how the assumptions that make science possible are rooted in a biblical worldview.
  • Outlines two major purposes for science: love of God, love of neighbor.
  • Enumerates creational norms for the practice of science.
20 Fallen Science – Mark Ward
  • Explores the ways science is frustrated by the fall.
  • Offers an epistemological critique of scientific naturalism.
  • Offers a moral critique of scientific naturalism.
21 Reading Genesis and Doing Science – Mark Ward
  • Explores the way various worldviews interpret Genesis 1–3.
  • Argues for a view of Genesis 1–3 that is consistent with Jesus and Paul.
  • Profiles conservative Christians active in the sciences.
  • Urges students to do science themselves.

HISTORY

22 Foundations for History – Brian Collins
  • Provides Christian reasons for doing the work of history.
  • Lays out creational norms for history.
23 Fallen History – Brian Collins
  • Critiques various nationalistic and postmodern historiographies.
24 History in Light of Redemption – Brian Collins
  • Discusses the use of source materials and gives guidance on the construction of historical models and the discernment of providence.

ARTS & CULTURE

25 Truth, Goodness, and Beauty – Brian Collins and Mark Ward
  • Explores the interplay of truth, goodness, and beauty in culture.
  • Offers concrete examples of truth, goodness, and beauty in art, literature, and music.
26 The False, the Bad, and the Ugly – Mark Ward
  • Provides examples of cultural artifacts which idolize truth, goodness, or beauty.
  • Provides examples of cultural artifacts which attack truth, goodness, or beauty.
  • Explores the way culture, particularly pop culture, shapes human sensibilities.
27 Creative Cultivators – Mark Ward
  • Shows how condemning, critiquing, consuming, and copying are wrong as postures but good as gestures when it comes to responding to human culture.
  • Urges students to be creative cultivators.

That final unit got a ton of help from the best aesthetician I know, Zach Franzen. But as lead author and general editor, I was responsible for the final form and style of the entire text and added a lot of the illustrations and other connective tissue. In other words, this book was a team effort like no other I’ve ever worked on. And that, for me, was a wonderful experience for which I thank the Lord.

Mike Asire, my designer, read just about every word of the text and did a great job designing the book and all the pages and graphics in it. I was slightly skeptical of his choice of Futura for headers and pull-quotes, but I trusted him and I’m glad I did. I think his work looks fantastic.

Chris Koelle contributed fantastic illustrations for the unit openers. Eventually you’ll be able to order some of them at his site for the walls of your own home. I plan to, partly out of gratitude to him.

There were many others who contributed significantly to this book, like the editor and the project manager who would be embarrassed to be named. On such an obscure blog.

A final word about the content: there are many angles, even in Scripture, from which any of the topics covered in this book could be viewed. But I found worldview—application of the entire storyline of Scripture—to be a very fruitful lens through which to view everything from homosexuality to language to music to gender roles to government.

And a final word about the team: this book is really the fruit of the work of Dr. Bryan Smith, the longtime Bible Integration coordinator at BJU Press. It was my goal to fill out his vision in my writing. His combination of exegetical rigor and theological synthesis is unmatched in my experience. He is a gift to the church and a mentor to me, as is my best friend Brian Collins who, you will see, also contributed to this book.

What a privilege it was to work on this project. Gushing done. Buy now.