Escape from Reason by Francis Schaeffer

Escape from Reason

By: Francis Schaeffer

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – October, 2018

Escape from Reason (IVP Classics)In a culture where men and women and boys and girls question their basic biological identity, it seems logical that we might ask ourselves, “How did we get here?” That is the question that the late Francis Schaeffer tackled in the latter half of the 20th Century when he wrote Escape from Reason. In this short but powerful work, Schaeffer critiques the vanity of modern philosophy that has destroyed any unity between faith and reason and has bankrupted public morals, leaving us with no solid basis for law and unable to adequately address the reality of evil.

However, the author contends that if the Christian will seek to understand the thought processes of the surrounding culture and grasp the Bible’s truth about God and man, he/she needs not despair. Since humans are made in God’s image and since He has created all things, the believer is able to proclaim the teachings of Scripture “in the marketplace of ideas” and allow God’s word to stand on its own and speak into His world. Escape from Reason challenges the reader to communicate the gospel in terms that are understandable to the world of our day.

I highly recommend this book to those who have never read Francis Schaeffer before or to those who wish to understand how our society has devolved into its present state and to be encouraged to be light in the darkness.

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The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson

The Doctrine of Repentance

By: Thomas Watson

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – September, 2018

The word “repent” or “repentance” is one of those theological terms that seems antiquated, old-fashioned, or foreign to many Christians today. It’s not uncommon to hear someone articulate a gospel message that is void of any reference to this teaching.  Although many assume that this is simply characteristic of the 21st century state of the Church, Thomas Watson’s classic work on this topic reminds us that Christians are constantly in need of studying and applying this doctrine regardless of the age in which they live.

Although written in 1668, this short book (122 pages) is easy to read and filled with valuable insights. In a very pastoral manner, Watson looks at the nature of, rationale for, and hindrances to repentance before showing the reader how to repent. I highly recommend this work to all Christians since, by nature of God’s work in our hearts, we are all repenting people.

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The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor by John Stott

The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor

By: John Stott

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – August, 2018

I found myself driven to my knees while reading The Living Church by John Stott. Very few books have had this effect on me. Written shortly before his death, this book is a reflection on the Church and lessons learned over 60 plus years of ministry. However, the author does not begin by looking back on what was and longing for the good old days. Rather, Stott takes note of where we are in the 21st century and reflects on what the Church can be.

He begins the first chapter by listing the essentials of God’s vision for His church – Learning, Caring, Worshiping, and Evangelizing. The next seven chapters show how these four characteristics unfold in the life of the Church. The author concludes his thoughts with a challenge to up and coming “Timothys,” and he includes three interesting appendices offering historical insight into his life.  Even in the few instances where I disagreed with Stott’s views, I was encouraged by the godly counsel from this wise and experienced saint.

Although it is a short read, I believe you will be pleasantly and gently challenged by this work. I highly recommend it for all of us at Grace & Peace as a nice book on a late summer vacation or to start the upcoming season at our church.

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Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper

Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God

By: Noel Piper

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – July, 2018

Since vacation season is here again, I hoped to find a book that was short enough for busy parents, yet interesting enough to keep one’s attention on the beach, relaxing by a mountain lake, or simply kicking back at home.  Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper (wife of pastor and author John Piper) meets those requirements. The writer has provided five biographies of godly women whose desire to serve the Lord challenges the reader to do the same.

The women that Piper chose to include are Sarah Edwards, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn Kim, and Helen Roseveare. All of these women come from different countries, serving on various continents throughout a period that stretches from the 18th to the 20th century. Sarah Edwards was the wife of the famous pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards. Lilias Trotter was born in England and sailed to North Africa to work as a missionary in Algeria. Gladys Aylward was a missionary to China in the 1930s where she became a naturalized citizen, working with orphans. Esther Ahn Kim was a Korean Christian who endured persecution when the Japanese military controlled that nation. Helen Roseveare served as a doctor in the Congo throughout many years of bloodshed and turmoil. Their love for the Lord drove them to not only serve but suffer for Christ and the advance of the gospel.

Although I had originally hoped to find a book that would appeal to the women of our church, I was drawn in to the various accounts of these courageous women and encouraged to see the faithfulness of God in each of their lives. I recommend this book as a good summer read about the lives of other Christians who gave all for the glory of God and found Him to be strong on their behalf.

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The Heidelberg Catechism: A Study Guide by G. I. Williamson

The Heidelberg Catechism: A Study Guide

By: G. I. Williamson

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – June, 2018

Both warm and theologically sound, The Heidelberg Catechism stands as one of the most significant creeds of the Protestant Reformation. Used to

nurture new believers in the faith as well as encourage those who are more mature, it is divided into three major parts: The Law of God (from which we understand our need of a Savior), The Grace of God in Jesus Christ (who we find is our only hope for redemption), and The New Life Through the Holy Spirit (that is lived out in gratitude by those saved in Christ.)

Although an older sister document to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, many Presbyterians know little about this work. G. I. Williamson, who wrote study guides for the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Shorter Catechism, has also provided a thorough examination of the Heidelberg Catechism that includes all 129 questions and answers. Having worked through this material in the past, I highly recommend it for those wishing to grow in appreciation of their salvation in Christ and a general understanding of the Reformed Faith.

 

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With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship, By: D.G. Hart and John R. Muether

With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship

By: D.G. Hart and John R. Muether

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – March, 2018

As many of us can attest, we often come into the Reformed Faith because of compelling theological reasons only to discover that there is much more to Reformed theology than the five points of Calvinism or the five solas of the Reformation. Sometimes we are surprised to discover that a major emphases of the Reformation was the nature and practice of worship. Reformed worship in particular can be a little puzzling to folks that have grown up with a broad evangelical background. In the book With Reverence and Awe the authors offer a study on the foundational principles of worship in a Reformed context. This short work challenges the reader to seriously consider a biblical perspective on the worship of God, thereby upholding what is known as the Regulative Principle. Although it is not an exhaustive study on the subject, it does turn our attention away from the common man-centered approach to a God-centered focus on what the Church does as it gathers together on the Lord’s day. I highly recommend this concise work to anyone wishing to understand the Reformed perspective of worship.

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Trinity Hymnal: Great Commission Publications

Trinity Hymnal

By: Great Commission Publications

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – February, 2018

Besides containing the hymns normally sung by our congregation on Sunday morning, the Trinity Hymnal is a treasure of worship material. Included in the back are responsive readings in the psalms, The Apostles and Nicene creeds, and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Shorter Catechism. Familiarizing ourselves with the great hymns of the Faith, not only enables us to worship more robustly on Sunday mornings, but connects us with the worship of the Church throughout the ages, and serves as an aid in adding music to our personal and family devotions. Therefore, I recommend this work to all those at Grace & Peace Presbyterian Church.

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The Songs of Jesus, By Timothy and Kathy Keller

The Songs of Jesus

By: Timothy and Kathy Keller

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – January, 2018

As we begin a new year many folks look for a devotional book that can be used for either personal or family time. In The Songs of Jesus, Tim and Kathy Keller offer a day by day look through the Psalms. Beginning with the Scripture text, the author gives a brief commentary followed by a prayer focusing on the passage. The writer’s design is to bring you closer to the Lord as you walk through every situation of life, finding guidance, comfort, and strength through the songbook of the people of God. Renee and I are finding choice morsels of wisdom as we read through this work together. I recommend it, not so much for deep theological reflection, but as a window into the heart of Jesus and His care for His sheep.

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Essential Sermons, by Saint Augustine

Essential Sermons

By: Saint Augustine
New City Press

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – December, 2017

I recently came across this interesting work that I’ve found valuable for my own personal devotions. Translated into modern English this volume includes various sermons of Augustine, bishop of Hippo, that deals with both theology and practical Christian living. Although as a Protestant, I find some of Augustine’s views untenable, such as his views on marriage and celibacy, his personal appeals to his congregation and profound insights make his preaching come alive to the reader. The bishop’s Christ-centered approach to scripture and church topics is refreshing, and his propensity of calling his people to holy living is quite challenging. I especially enjoyed those sermons on the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer. Toward the end of the book the editors included a few sermons delivered on the feast days of various martyrs. I began reading them with caution, fearing that these might lead to a form of adoration of “saints”. However, working through these sermons, I found most of them constantly bringing the reader back to a focus on the work of Christ to strengthen the faith of His people.

Therefore, with an admonition to use discernment, I would recommend this book as a devotional tool for those wishing to learn from one of the great thinkers of the Church as he taught the Scriptures to his people for their edification.

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