Book Suggestion December 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were

by Leland Ryken

Pastor’s Description

For those of us living in a culture where the word “Puritan” conjures up all sorts of negative ideas, Worldly Saints is a refreshing look at those men and women who had a profound impact, not only on English and American Protestant Christianity, but on both of these cultures as well.  In this volume, Leland Ryken brings to light the positive aspects of the Puritan movement as it impacted the modern work ethic, family life, worship, education and social action. Nevertheless, the author does not simply paint a glowing account of earlier Christians, while ignoring the negative aspects of this important group, but balances their strengths and achievements with their inadequacies and failures.

Rather than a dry and sterile treatment of a little known aspect of western civilization, Worldly Saints is a lively and enjoyable examination of a very misunderstood attempt to live for Christ in the world without being of the world.

The reader may be somewhat surprised at the level of influence that Puritanism (in its best sense as well as its worst) has had on our own culture. The Forward, by J.I. Packer is a true gem as it offers great insight into the importance of understanding this movement.

I highly recommend this book for those that are interested in knowing how theology impacts life and learning from those that went before us or for those that just want to relax and read an uplifting and interesting work on a movement that still impacts our society, culture and religion today.

Review/Purchase

 

Book Suggestion November 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

Training Hearts – Teaching Minds:
Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism

by Starr Meade, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishers

Pastor’s Description

If you are a parent who has struggled with teaching your children from the Westminster Shorter Catechism or if you have given up on such a “daunting” task or if you are not sure of the importance of it at all, Starr Meade has written a very good resource that teaches one question of the catechism per week. Divined into six days of the week, each question is approached from a different perspective every day.  Sunday is left open so that the family can review the questions they had been learning previously.

A brief devotion that combines an exposition of a particular catechism question with the appropriate Scripture upon which the subject is based, this book is ideal as an after dinner devotional or for family time at the end of the day. It will help to encourage your children to ask questions as they dig deeper into the doctrines contained in the Bible and it will help to guide the parents as they try to raise their children to be mature Christians, not “tossed to and from by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. But who grow up in every way … into Christ.” (Eph.4:14-15)

I recommend this book for those parents that wish to ground their children in the faith as well as for individuals that might wish to incorporate the Shorter Catechism into their own devotional time.

Review/Purchase

 

Book Suggestion October 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

Knowing Scripture

By: R.C. Sproul

Pastor’s Description

Once again Christians are under attack by those that believe it is impossible for the normal believer to understand the meaning of Scripture for him/herself. We are being told that any attempt to interpret the Bible ourselves ultimately leads to subjectivism, where one person’s opinion has no more validity than that of another.
In this small book R.C. Sproul deals with that criticism by offering a solid approach to Bible study that rejects subjectivism and leads to an objective understanding of Scripture. I recommend this book for those wishing to strengthen their ability to know the word of God, which is able to make us wise for salvation in Christ Jesus.

The following summary from the Ligonier web page offers further insight into this volume:

The Bible is the written Word of God, and it is treasured by many. But it is also an ancient book about people and cultures very different than us. Thus, while we know we should read it, many of us have a hard time understanding the Bible.
In this updated edition of Knowing Scripture, R. C. Sproul helps us dig out the meaning of Scripture for ourselves. The author says, “The theme of this book is not how to read the Bible but how to study the Bible.” He presents in simple, basic terms a commonsense approach to studying Scripture and gives eleven practical guidelines for biblical interpretation and applying what we learn. With a minimum of technical jargon, Sproul tackles some of the knotty questions regarding differences of interpreting the Bible, including

  • discovering the meanings of biblical words
  • understanding Hebrew poetry, proverbs and parables
  • approaching historical and didactic passages
  • being careful with predictive prophecy
  • discerning how culture conditions the Bible
  • choosing and using Bible translations, commentaries, Bible software and other help

Knowing Scripture is a basic book for both beginning Bible readers and experienced students of Scripture.

Review/Purchase

Book Suggestion September 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

John Calvin: A Biography

By: T.H.L. Parker

Pastor’s Description

In this conscience biography, T.H.L. Parker paints a portrait of possibly the most important Protestant Reformer next to Martin Luther.  Placing Calvin in his historical setting, Parker examines the life, theology and ministry of the man who became the theologian of  the Reformation.  This lively biography details Calvin’s family,  childhood, entrance into the Reformed movement, ministry and personal life.

Through this book we can see Calvin’s high view of the Sovereignty of God, Scripture and the Church. The reader is given a good opportunity to examine and judge some of Calvin’s more controversial decisions in the context of the age in which he lived.

I highly recommend this volume for anyone interested in knowing more of this Reformer, understanding his theology in light of his life and simply enjoying a book that demonstrates the highs and lows of a fallible man used mightily by God.

Review/Purchase

 

Book Suggestion August 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism

By: Craig R. Brown
Published by: Ligonier Ministries

Pastor’s Description

If you have difficulties in reconciling Calvinism with subjects such as human responsibility, the problem of evil or the death of infants; or if you have met others that reject the Reformed Faith because of these types of questions, this small book may be of great help to you.  In 126 pages, Ruling Elder, Craig Brown offers insights from Scripture that clarify these issues and more.

I recommend this book to those struggling to understand Reformed doctrines, those wanting help in defending their beliefs to others or those simply wanting to refresh their thinking on the faith they’ve come to know.

Review/Purchase

 

Book Suggestion July 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story

By: Craig G. Batholomew & Michael W. Goheen

Pastor’s Description

Often people read the Bible as a group of disconnected stories, having no major focus other than to provide a moral compass for daily living.  In The Drama of Scripture, the authors turn from this approach and direct the reader’s attention to the great drama of redemptive history that unfolds from Genesis to Revelation.

In keeping with the tradition of theologians like Geerhardus Vos and Herman Ridderbos, Bartholomew and Goheen trace the progress of the kingdom of God throughout the Bible in an easy to read style that informs as well as challenges.

Although this is a theology book, it is not cumbersome or incomprehensible. Therefore, I recommend it to any Christian that wishes to better understand the mind of God and our place in His story of redemption. Reading this volume should enable a person to better understand the Bible, the purpose for which it is given and the God who graciously speaks to us in it.

Review/Purchase

 

Book Suggestion June 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

Three Free Sins

By: Steve Brown

Pastor’s Description

Three Free Sins is a book that exposes the facade of the perfect Christian life.  Written in Steve Brown’s witty and somewhat sarcastic style, it challenges Christians to lay aside our fear of failure before God and embrace the unmerited favor that sets us free from playing church.

If you are tired of trying to be better, tired of your failure and tired of asking how God could love someone like you … read this book.

If you are tired of all those sinful Christians around you, definitely … read this book.

And if you go to church and do the Christian thing because, “that’s what good people do” … read this book.

As you read, be aware that Steve will challenge your assumptions about what it means to be a Christian.  He’ll ruffle feathers. And he’ll say some things with which you don’t agree.  But in the end, he will invite the reader to relax and breath the fresh air of the grace of our loving Savior.

While reading Three Free Sins I laughed, winced, felt convicted and finally rejoiced in the God who is not mad at me. Although I do not agree with everything the author writes and would not necessarily express myself in the same way that he does, I highly recommend this book as a help for those needing to rest in Jesus.

Review/Purchase

 

Book Suggestion May 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life

By: John Calvin (Baker Book House)

Pastor’s Description

In his short devotional, Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, John Calvin offers a clear biblical perspective on living the normal Christian life. Avoiding both shallowness and austere pietism the author focuses on walking with Christ in a real world.
Originally written as part of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, it was later published separately to great acceptance throughout the Protestant world. Penned 400 years ago, Golden Booklet retains its emphasis on practical living in light of the lordship, redemption and promises of Jesus.
I highly recommend this small devotional for anyone wanting a refreshing look at the Christian life from the Reformer whose heart was on fire for Christ.

Review/Purchase

Book Suggestion April 2012

Suggestion from the Pastor

The Cross of Christ

By: John Stott (IVP)

Pastor’s Description

In this work, John Stott demonstrates the absolute necessity that Christ die as the substitutionary sacrifice for sinners and that His death brings victory to every aspect of the believer’s life.
The book is divided into four major sections.
The first includes an historical perspective of the cross throughout Christian history,  the necessity of Christ’s death, and a discussion of those responsible.
The second part deals with what Stott calls “the heart of the cross.”  Here he discussed the idea of divine forgiveness being predicated upon the death of Jesus, the satisfaction of the holy love of God, and the substitutionary nature of the atonement.
The third section concentrates on the positive effects of the cross, which include the salvation of sinners, the revelation of God, and Christ’s victory over evil.
The final division concerns the life of the Church as experienced through worship, mutual service within the body, loving those outside the church, and dealing with suffering.
There are few book I would recommend as highly as this volume.  Although the subject matter contains history, theology and Christian practice, Stott’s warm style makes these 300 pages readable and devotionally engaging.  I highly recommend The Cross of Christ to anyone wishing to dig deeply into the centerpiece of our faith.

Review/Purchase