The Preacher and The Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House

The Preacher and The Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House

By: Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – August, 2017

Two veteran TIME writers, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy have written a fascinating book about a peculiar aspect of the ministry of Billy Graham. When being interviewed for this piece, Reverend Graham made the stipulation that the authors present the bad as well as the good. Following that wise counsel enabled Gibbs and Duffy to write a work that offers great insight for those wishing to understand the interaction between religion and politics in America.

Throughout his many years as an evangelist, Dr. Graham was also known as the President’s Pastor. This was not due to any official position but to the friendships he had developed with a number of these men as well as his influence in the evangelical world. From the presidency of Harry Truman to that of George W. Bush, Billy Graham was either seeking to influence the executive branch of government or was being sought after for his spiritual guidance. The Preacher and the Presidents demonstrates the danger to a gospel ministry that can happen when politics and religion become bedfellows, as well as the opportunity that a man of character can have in the spiritual lives of world leaders. After describing the early years when Billy Graham was naive and hungry for political influence, Gibbs and Duffy take the reader through the years of disillusionment and deception during the Nixon administration, and on into the later era of his life when worldly influence lost its luster but the gospel continued to shine. Reading this work, I was struck by the wisdom of the separation between church and state and for the godly character of Billy Graham. The former helps to mitigate against the danger of politicizing the message of the gospel while the latter is a reminder that God will carry on His work in spite of the imperfections of His servants. I highly recommend this book for its historical value as well as the lessons it teaches concerning the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of man.


Written In Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis, By Philip Graham Ryken

Written In Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis

By: Philip Graham Ryken

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – July, 2017

In this well written work on the Ten Commandments, Phil Ryken expounds on the Reformed view of the three uses of the Old Testament law – Ceremonial, Civil, and Moral. Noting that the moral law is binding on all people everywhere, the author examines the Ten Commandments in a manner that is relevant to our 21st Century culture. Ryken’s remarks on law vs grace, as well as on interpreting God’s law laid a good foundation for the subsequent chapters where he worked through each of the individual 10 Commandments. Each chapter ended with follow up questions that can be used for personal devotion or group discussion questions. I recommend this book as a helpful tool for any study on this valuable yet neglected topic.


Pete Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete

Pete Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete

By: Wayne Federman and Marshall Terrill

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – June, 2017

Hoping to suggest a book that would be an easy but interesting read for the vacation season, I decided upon this biography of the famous basketball star, Pete Maravich. Here is the story of one of the greatest basketball players of all time. His college scoring average of 44.2 points per game might never be broken. Although his professional career began promising, Maravich never played on an NBA championship team. Nevertheless, his style of play changed the game and made him one of the most exciting players of his era. Through it all the man who was known as The Pistol, felt unfulfilled, frustrated, and often alone. By the end of his career self doubts and bitterness caused Maravich to withdraw into his own world. It was at this low point that Jesus Christ reached into his life and changed him into a man dedicated to the Lord. Although his conversion is described in terms that may seem somewhat out of the ordinary to Reformed ears, the power of God to change a life was rather evident in the remaining years of Maravich’s short life. This is a book well worth reading for sports fans and for those who wish to be encouraged by the work of Christ to transform a life.


The Mortification of Sin, By: John Owen

The Mortification of Sin

By: John Owen

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – May, 2017

Banner of Truth Publishers has provided another classic work from the Puritan theologian, John Owen. Edited and abridged by Richard Rushing, The Mortification of Sin, describes the ongoing battle against sin that every Christian is called to fight. Although powerless to win on our own, we are nevertheless given the hope and assurance that victory is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ. I highly recommend this timeless and masterful treatment of a topic that is relevant to all Christians wishing to grow in holiness before the Lord.


The Temple and the Tabernacle, By J. Daniel Hays

The Temple and the Tabernacle

By: J. Daniel Hays

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – April, 2017

For many Christians reading the Old Testament passages that describe the Tabernacle or the Temple can seem as tedious as reading the various genealogies in the Bible. One of the reasons why we might find such passages wearisome is that we are unable to recognize the connection they have with the biblical story of redemption. In his book, The Temple and the Tabernacle J. Daniel Hays describes how both of these structures depict the holiness of God, His relationship to Israel, and the advent of Christ, His person, and His atoning sacrifice. I found the chapter on Christ as the Temple of God in the New Testament to be very helpful in clarifying those prophecies in Ezekiel to which many appeal when insisting on a new temple in a millennial age. I recommend this work as help in finding Christ in the Old Testament and seeing the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ.


Born Slaves, Martin Luther

Born Slaves

By: Martin Luther

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – March, 2017

Born Slaves is an abridged version of Martin Luther’s classic response to the treatise on free-will by the Roman Catholic humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam. Originally titled The Bondage of the Will, this shortened work demonstrates the insufficiency of the prevalent misunderstanding of free-will by offering Scripture proofs that man’s will is actually enslaved to sin and in need of God’s grace before it is free to make a decision for Christ. Although Erasmus’ view was well received by the Roman Church and is also the current position of most evangelicals today, it was not the view of the Reformers. In this short work of 93 pages, Luther offers a good corrective for the faulty view of salvation that actually elevates the will of man and diminishes the grace of God. I recommend this book to those who wish to gain a better understanding of the biblical view of salvation and the reason why God alone receives glory when sinners come to Jesus.