Book Review: No Quick Fix (Andy Naselli)

No Quick Fix Review Naselli

Have you ever been so sick of your sinful self that you tried just to let go and let God? Did your walk with God become easier? For how long? Did you find yourself bewildered and delirious at the remaining sin and your continued struggle against it, disappointed that God didn’t take it away? Did you declare Jesus him as your Lord again? Are you afraid that you’re a carnal Christian instead of a spiritual Christian who pleases God?

No Quick Fix is an abridged version of Andrew Naselli’s book Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology (revised from his PhD dissertation). The academic language has been stripped down, and the book has been repackaged for thoughtful lay people.

Higher life theology (coming from the early days of the Keswick [pronounced KEH-zick] theology, though distinguished from the Keswick Convention today) promotes a quick fix to the Christian life. Rather than growing in one’s sanctification and walk with God, Higher life theology says that you can be with out (intentional) sin now if you would only consecrate your life to Jesus. He may be your Savior, but he needs to be your Lord.

Summary

Naselli divides his book into two parts, two chapters per section. Part one explains the story and history of higher life theology (ch. 1) and what this theology teaches (ch. 2). This is no witch hunt. Naselli isn’t writing this book to disagree with a theology that’s different from his own. In part two, Naselli looks at the fundamental reason why higher life theology is harmful (ch. 3) and follows up with nine more reasons why this theology is harmful for the Christian life (ch. 4). Naselli wants to help those who have taught or have been taught higher life theology to know what the Bible teaches about the Christian life, and he wants to expose higher life theology to those who have no experience with it so they can better minister to those who have been influenced by it.

Higher life theology has two main influences: Wesleyan perfectionism and the holiness movement” (8). For John Wesley, a Christian could receive a second work of grace that would bring “salvation from all sin” along with “entire sanctification, perfect love, holiness, purity of intention, full salvation, second blessing, second rest, and dedicating all your life to God” (9). Later Christians believed Christian perfection began “the instant a believer experiences the outpouring of the Spirit, is baptized with the Spirit, is filled with the Spirit, or receives the Holy Spirit as the promise from the Father” (10).

Higher life Theology was popularized by many people, some noteworthy ones being Charles Finney, H. C. G. Moule, F. B. Meyer, Andrew Murray, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, and Frances Ridley Havergal (who wrote “Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace” [1878] and “Take my Life and let it be” [1874]), D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey, and even Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary (though not anymore). At DTS, Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, and Charles C. Ryrie promoted these teachings. Chafer taught that “Believers are in one of two distinct categories: (1) those who are not Spirit-filled and (2) those who are Spirit-filled. The first are powerless, and the second are powerful (21-22). However, “unlike Moody, Torrey, and Meyer, he insisted that Spirit-baptism occurs at conversion for all Christians” (22).

In higher life theology, there are three kinds of people in the world:

  1. natural (unconverted)
  2. carnal (converted but characterized by an unconverted lifestyle)
  3. spiritual (converted and Spirit-filled)

Unfortunately, a Christian who consecrates his life to Christ, received the filling of the Spirit, and is relinquished from a life of sin can still choose to unconsecrate his life. This is strange considering what Naselli says later, that “after you ‘let go and let God,’ God is obligated to keep you from sin’s power” (40). When the Christian is loosed from sin how would he be able to intentionally choose to not be under the Lordship of his Savior and, thus, sin? And why would he want to?). Doing so stops the sanctification process and will lead to the believer needing to consecrate his life to God again.

“A Spirit-filled Christian must not ‘relapse’ and experience spiritual leakage.’ That would require ‘a refilling.’ There is no guarantee that a Christian who is Spirit-filled will remain Spirit-filled” (43).

The biggest reason why higher life theology is harmful for Christians is its division of Christians into “carnal” and “spiritual” categories. Carnal Christians have the Spirit, but spiritual Christians are filled by the Spirit. Again, Naselli is not on a witch hunt. He presents five commendable characteristics of higher life theology: It exalts Christ, it is warmly devotional, it emphasizes spiritual disciplines, it affirms fundamental orthodoxy, and it has a legacy of faithful Christian leaders.

However, Naselli spends the second part of his book explaining higher life’s theology  defects. He lists ten reasons (though I’ll only give a few of them). Higher life theology emphasizes passivity, not activity, as God is 100% the one who keeps us from sin. there is truth to this, but it severely downplays our role in fighting against sin. “It portrays the Christian’s free will as autonomously starting and stopping sanctification” (a form of Pelagianism, though not the full-fledged heretical Pelagianism) (48, 84, 99). It does not interpret and apply the Bible accurately, and it assures false “Christians” they are saved by telling them they are just carnal. It frustrates those who aren’t “filled” with the Spirit because they still struggle with sin (which is actually normal to every Christian). It also misinterprets personal experiences. Sometimes a Christian may have a spiritual experience of some kind, a great sense of God’s overwhelming presence. Just as one remembers Christmas dinner more than Tuesdays leftovers, these experiences leave a lasting impression on our lives. Yet that doesn’t mean that we have received a second filling or are now free from sin. Naselli looks at texts in Romans 6, 1 Corinthians 2–3, 12, Ephesians 5, and John 15 for evidence of progressive sanctification in the normal Christian life and how all Christians are filled by the Holy Spirit.

No Quick Fix ends with a lengthy and solid afterword by John MacArthur and an appendix with a list of twenty-eight resources on the Christian life.

Recommended?

With numerous charts throughout Naselli’s book which helpfully portray the beliefs of both higher life theology and what the Bible teaches, Naselli’s book is short enough to get a hold on what higher life theology is and why one shouldn’t hold to it. Higher life theology is pervasive, but the Bible shows us a better way: walking and growing with the God who saved us, redeemed us, walks with us, and promises to return for us. This God can be understood and known (Jer 9.24), and he is fighting for us and with us. 

After commending higher life theology’s emphasis on the Christian’s devotional life, J. I. Packer, says,

It is not much of a recommendation when all you can say is that this teaching may help you if you do not take its details too seriously. It is utterly damning to have to say, as in this case I think we must, that if you do take its details seriously, it will tend not to help you but to destroy you. (98)

This is a book I wish I would have had in high school. I heard it occasionally in school, in church, and a bit in Bible college too. Knowing what higher life theology is and how to reason against it biblically will save you and others a lot of worry over having to “consecrate” themselves all over again… again. 

Lagniappe

Buy it on Logos or from Amazon!

Disclosure: I received this book free from Lexham Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 

Book Review: Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ (Naselli/Crowley)

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Andrew David Naselli (PhD, Bob Jones University; PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is assistant professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. J. D. Crowley (MA, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary) has been doing missionary and linguistic work among the indigenous minorities of northeast Cambodia since 1994.

Buy One, Get Ten Free

Some subjects in Christianity are so fertile, so abundantly promising and useful on so many different levels, that studying them reaps a harvest far beyond expectations. It’s like buy one, get ten free. Conscience is one of those subjects. It touches on salvation, progressive sanctification, church unity, evangelism, missions, and apologetics. Yet hardly is a topic more neglected in the Christian church (Kindle 173-175).

What is a conscience and why do we have it? What are we meant to use it for? Can we sell it? Can we shape it, mold it? Should we, in the words of Jiminy Cricket, always let our conscience be our guide? Can it ever be wrong?

After we’ve answered those questions, the next test remains: since we aren’t like “Bubble Boy,” we shouldn’t keep only to ourselves, and we should live amongst other believers (and non-Christians), how ought we interact with others who have a different conscience than us? Split and form another church? How must we calibrate our conscience to how God desires us to live?

Naselli and Crowley have met a need by writing Conscience. If Paul spent whole sections on it in his letters (Rom 14.1–15.7; 1 Cor 8–10; Gal 2; Col 2), then we must consider our own consciences and the consciences of others more than we already do. It is a gift from God.

Outline

  • Chapters 1 and 2 ask what a conscience is and how we define it from the NT. Humans have consciences. Animals don’t. Our conscience reflects the moral aspect of God’s image. No one has the same conscience, your conscience doesn’t perfectly match God’s commands (thus you must always be growing), and you can damage your conscience. In chapter 2, all NT verses which speak of “conscience” are written out, and afterwards a definition is produced which tells us what the conscience can and cannot do and why it matters.

The following four chapters ask four critical questions:

  • Chapter 3, What should you do when your conscience condemns you?
    .
  • Chapter 4, How should you calibrate your conscience to match God’s will?
    “Martin Luther believed that maintaining a good conscience was worth going to prison for and even dying for.” (Kindle 774-775). Here the authors look at how reliable your conscience is on it’s own, and show you how you can calibrate your conscience according to what is pleasing to God. They give plenty of examples of third-level issues (issues which many will disagree over, but they are issues that nobody should split over), and reason over why no one should be dogmatic over all of his convictions.
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  • Chapter 5, How should you relate to fellow Christians when your consciences disagree? The authors give 12 principles from Romans 14.1-15.7 on how Christians can disagree with one another on disputable matters. They show Paul’s solution of love that emphasizes and “magnifies the gospel.”
    .
  • Chapter 6, How should you relate to people in other cultures when your consciences disagree? It can sometimes seem like people in other cultures don’t even have a conscience. They easily offend you, and, as it turns out, no matter how hard you try, you easily offend them too! How can we live together? And how can we bring the Gospel to other cultures without imposing our own cultural “laws” on to their lives? Chapter 6 pulls out another facet of Christian liberty and the freedom to disciple yourself to be flexible for the Gospel.

The book ends with two appendices:

  • Similarities Between Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8–10
  • Conscience Exercises For Cross-Cultural Effectiveness

The Chocolate Milk

Every chapter is important, and I found chapter 6 interesting, especially since Mari has a bachelor in intercultural communications, and we are an intercultural couple. Even though I’m American, I’ve been abroad for 5 years, and coming back to America I have to learn a few things over again (such as with being in a Southern Baptist context). It’s all fairly familiar to me, but it can be down right bizarre for Mari. This chapter is especially important:
…….(a) if you move to a new city/state/country.
…….(b) if someone else moves to your city.
…….(c) if you are a missionary to another country.
…….(d) because, with all the incoming refugees, you can’t just assume you know how they think, nor should you generalize.

More could be listed here, but it’s important to work toward understanding those who think differently than you (and I) do. In all of this we should seek unity with our family in Christ, and, as much as is possible, be peaceable among nonbelievers.

Recommended?

At 160 pages, this is a seriously easy and important book for any and all Christians to read through. I tried scanning through Amazon for books on the Christian conscience, and found next to nothing (minus a book by Sproul which is free on Kindle). While I haven’t read any other books on the conscience, the lack of Christian books on conscience shows the need for more discussion on this topic. There are a number of books about the conscience on Amazon, most of them from a non-Christian perspective. If you’re going to spend your time reading a book, pick up one written by two biblically solid scholars who seek to glorify God in all that they do. Read this book, and put it into practice. You’ll need it.

Lagniappe

  • Authors: Andrew Naselli & J. D. Crowley
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (April 30, 2016)
  • Read a Sample

Related Posts

Buy from Crossway or on Amazon!

Disclosure: I received this book free from Crossway. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

50th Anniversary of the NIV Bible

50th Anniversary Celebration of the NIV Commissioning Continues with "Made to Share" Quarterly Theme (PRNewsFoto/Zondervan)

Yesterday I talked about the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible edited by D.A. Carson, T.D. Alexander, Richard Hess, Doug Moo, and Andy Naselli. This NIVZST comes out just 50 years after the “initial cross-denominational gathering of evangelical scholars who met outside Chicago in 1965 and agreed to start work on what is now known as the New International Version” (read about the anniversary here). It’s easy to think of Bible translators as sitting in their ivory tower, drinking their frappe lattes, and talking about which way a verse sounds better. It’s as if they say, “We pray over it and say amen, but at the end of the day we just flip a coin.”

That sounds quite terrible, actually. Thankfully with the NIV that is not the case. I can tell you just from my small exposure to learning Norwegian, translating the bible is actually much more difficult than that. Try reading every word, sentence, and paragraph Genesis, Acts, or Isaiah over, and over, and over again. You’re parsing the Greek, the Hebrew, or the Aramaic to know what is being said. You then not only have to bring it over into the English language, but into the proper, most widely used colloquial terms. What good is it to translate God’s word into English is the average person on the street can’t understand it? One thing we shouldn’t forget is that the translators of the NIV are also teachers, scholars, authors, pastors, husbands, and wives, etc. They have lives beyond sitting around a table for endless hours trying to choose the perfect word. Yet they take their job seriously so that you can understand the Bible that sits in front of you. 

Making a Translation

Bill Mounce, an expert in Greek who posts about biblical Greek in a series called Mondays with Mounce, said, ”You have to make the translation reflect the actual nature of the author. Paul has a really good command of Greek, and the beauty of that needs to come through in our translation.” And Karen Jobes, commentator on Esther and 1 Peter and the first woman to join the Committee of Bible Translation (CBT), agrees that “We don’t want it to be our voice. We really do want it to be accurate and clear, and that involves facing hard issues.”

The people who work on translating Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts into a coherent and understandable English translation are evangelical Christians who want to spread God’s word in the most understandable way possible. They know that not every Christian will learn Greek and Hebrew, nor will every Christian spend the required hours to dig through the smorgasbord of manuscripts to find the best reading.

As the translators of the King James Version, 1611, said, “But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknown tongue?” The NIV Made to Read link reminds us, “Modern people should be able to learn about God’s power, love and redemption from a Bible in up-to-date language.” 

Language Efforts

Language is not static. Life and culture change, as do tastes, likes and dislikes. Metaphors come into being, and words exhale their last breath.

For us English speakers who don’t read Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, we don’t understand the great effort it takes to translate these languages into English. (I’ve quickly learned this fact when it comes to learning Norwegian). Doug Moo, a Pauline and New Testament expert, spent years studying and talking to other experts on the best way to translate the Greek word sarx, which is translated as “flesh.”

In this link Karen Jobes talks about translating Ps 23. Most Christians have Psalm 23 memorized, and the NIV translators didn’t want to make any unnecessary changes. But Psalm 23.4 doesn’t actually refer to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It refers to darkness. “Jobes believes the translators have helped to make the verse more precise than ever before.

‘We may feel we’re in the valley of darkness in lots of different ways other than with impending death,’ Jobes said…. ‘Accuracy and clarity have to trump tradition,’ CBT member Karen Jobes said. ‘Sometimes we ‘ruin’ our own favorite verses for the sake of accuracy and clarity.’

The translators seek to make the NIV relevant, not to people-please, but so more people can pick up the Bible and understand what it is saying.

Gender-Inclusive Language

The Made For You link lets you read about the issues on the use of masculine nouns and pronouns no longer being universally accepted as referring to both men and women. The CBT “commissioned a study by Collins Dictionaries to study the Collins Bank of English, a database of more than 4.4 billion words taken from recordings and publications throughout the English-speaking world.”

“With that data,” said Doug Moo, “we were then able as translators to say, ‘Despite our own personal preferences, this is the English that most people are speaking, and that’s what we need to use in our translation.’”

This data made it impossible to accuse the CBT of bias.

Why can’t the CBT leave the NIV text alone?”

But the answer was obvious: because the text is only as accurate as it is understood. “If we were to use in those contexts, ‘He who takes up his cross, follow me,’” said CBT chair Doug Moo, “it would communicate to a contemporary English audience a masculine sense that the original text did not have in mind at all.”

The translation needed to reflect the English that people were actually speaking. The goal was not to be trendy. The goal was good translation.

Endorsements

Here you can read endorsements from Christian leaders like Philip Yancey,

Pastors like Max Lucado and Rick Warren, 

Biblical Scholars like Darrell Bock, D. A. Carson, Jason DeRouchie, George Guthrie, and more.

The NIV Bible has been around for 50 years, and I hope it will be around for at least another 50. The scholars put in both the time and the effort to make this the best translation it can be for the English-speaking world, and they will never stop seeking to continually refine it as long as it means more people can understand God’s Word.

NIV Timeline

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Lagniappe

NIV Products Page

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

  • Hardcover: 2912 pages
  • Contributors: 60+
  • Articles: 25+
  • Maps: 90+
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Har/Psc edition (August 25, 2015)

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Buy it on AmazonZondervan, or from Logos!

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

 

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Growing up I was a NKJV kid. Not that I read it that often, but all of the Bibles I ever owned, used in school, and brought to church were the NKJV translation. In Bible college I moved to a single column ESV with a good amount of space for notes. I didn’t even have a study Bible until I married Mari. Though I regret not having a study Bible sooner, I honestly doubt I would have used it. Unless, perhaps, I had owned the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible by Zondervan.

It’s similar to the ESV Bible in that there are plenty of maps, pictures, and helpful introductions. Unlike the ESV Study Bible which is geared toward Systematic Theology (what the entire Bible says about a particular topic), the Zondervan NIV Study Bible (NIVZST) is focuses on Biblical Theology. The editors and contributors seek to understand each book on it’s own terms and how it adds to the story and canon of Scripture.

How did the knowledge of God progress from Genesis to Revelation? What is the storyline of the Bible? Questions we might ask about Moses and his writings would be, “What did Moses know about God and his purposes?” or “What didn’t Moses know because it hadn’t been revealed yet?” Ezra knew more about God’s purposes than David who knew more than Moses who knew more than Adam. It’s a story in progress, and the NIVZST helps its readers know what that story is and how it develops.

Managing editor Andy Naselli said this Study Bible “repeatedly makes organic, salvation-historical connections, especially regarding how the Old and New Testaments integrate.”

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Thanks to Andra Kee for the picture!

“Charts, maps and photographs also invite readers to visualize the world of the Bible. At the end of the study Bible, 28 articles on everything from creation to justice to worship provide a comprehensive examination of theology from a conservative viewpoint.”

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Contributors

(The full list of can be found laid out here).

Old Testament

  • T.D. Alexander — Genesis
  • Richard S. Hess — Genesis
  • Paul R. Williamson — Exodus
  • Richard E. Averbeck — Leviticus
  • Jay A. Sklar — Numbers
  • Stephen G. Dempster — Deuteronomy
  • Richard S. Hess — Joshua
  • K. Lawson Younger, Jr. — Judges
  • Robert L. Hubbard — Ruth
  • John D. Currid — 1-2 Samuel
  • Robert L. Hubbard — 1 Kings
  • Todd Bolen — 2 Kings
  • Frederick J. Mabie — 1-2 Chronicles
  • Robert S. Fyall — Ezra, Nehemiah
  • Karen H. Jobes — Esther
  • C. Hassell Bullock — Job
  • David M., Jr. Howard — Psalms
  • Michael K. Snearly — Psalms
  • Christopher B. Ansberry — Proverbs
  • Bruce K. Waltke — Proverbs
  • Craig C. Bartholomew — Ecclesiastes
  • Richard S. Hess — Song of Songs
  • John N. Oswalt — Isaiah
  • Iain M. Duguid — Jeremiah
  • David J. Reimer — Lamentations
  • Donna Lee Petter — Ezekiel
  • Tremper Longman III — Daniel
  • Douglas K. Stuart — Hosea
  • David W. Baker — Joel
  • M. Daniel Caroll R. — Amos
  • David W. Baker — Obadiah
  • T.D. Alexander — Jonah
  • Bruce K. Waltke — Micah
  • V. Philips Long — Nahum
  • Elmer A. Martens — Habakkuk
  • Jason S. DeRouchie — Zephaniah
  • Anthony R. Petterson — Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah
  • Andrew E. Hill — Malachi

New Testament

  • Craig L. Blomberg — Matthew
  • Rikk E. Watts — Mark
  • David W. Pao — Luke
  • D.A. Carson — John
  • Andrew David Naselli — John
  • Mark L. Strauss — Acts
  • Douglas J. Moo — Romans
  • Eckhard J. Schnabel — 1 Corinthians
  • Murray J. Harris — 2 Corinthians
  • Stephen Westerholm — Galatians
  • Te-Li Lau — Ephesians
  • Simon J. Gathercole — Philippians
  • David E. Garland — Colossians
  • Jeffrey A.D.  Weima — 1-2 Thessalonians
  • Robert W. Yarbrough — 1-2 Timothy, Titus
  • David E. Garland — Philemon
  • Buist M. Fanning — Hebrews
  • Douglas J. Moo — James
  • Karen H. Jobes — 1 Peter
  • Douglas J. Moo — 2 Peter
  • Andrew David Naselli — 2 Peter
  • Colin G. Kruse — 1-2 John
  • Douglas J. Moo — Jude
  • Andrew David Naselli — Jude
  • Brian J. Tabb — Revelation

Articles

  • D.A. Carson — A Biblical-Theological Overview of the Bible
    •  — The Bible and Theology
    •  — Sonship
  • T.D. Alexander — The City of God
    •  — The Kingdom of God
    •  — Law
    •  — Temple
  • Douglas J. Moo — The Consummation
  • Paul R. Williamson — Covenant
  • Henri Blocher — Creation
  • Philip S. Johnston — Death and Resurrection
  • Thomas R. Wood — Exile and Exodus
  • James M. Hamilton Jr. — The Glory of God
  • Greg D. Gilbert — The Gospel
  • Andrew David Naselli — Holiness
  • Brian S. Rosner — Justice
  • Graham A. Cole — Love and Grace
  • Andreas J. Köstenberger — Mission
  • Dana M. Harris — Priest
  • Moisés Silva — People of God
  • Sam Storms — Prophets and Prophecy
  • Jay A. Sklar — Sacrifice
  • Timothy Keller — Shalom
    •  —The Story of the Bible: How the Good News About Jesus Is Central
  • Kevin DeYoung — Sin
  • Daniel J. Estes —Wisdom
  • Christopher W. Morgan — Wrath
  • David G. Peterson — Worship

Share-ables

There are a few sections to this share-able page.

    • 8 almost-tweetable summaries of a few of the articles in the NIVZSB.
    • 12 pictures of different tables with content such as “Major Old Testament Offerings and Sacrifices,” “Major Covenants in the Old Testament,” “Contrasts of Levitical Priesthood and Jesus’ Priesthood in Hebrews,” and more.
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    • 8 videos about the NIVZSB, including the scholar team behind the NIVZSB, interviews, and more.

Conclusion

This is not “just another study Bible.” The list of scholars here are top notch. They not only put in the effort to know the Scriptures, but they love the church and want all to grow in the knowledge of God and in his revelation through Christ. This would make for a good Christmas present, but also a good study companion. This is a book I wish I would have had in high school. And college. And Bible college. And now.

 Lagniappe

  • Hardcover: 2912 pages
  • Contributors: 60+
  • Articles: 25+
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Har/Psc edition (August 25, 2015)

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Buy it on AmazonZondervan, Adlibris, or Logos!