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PURSUE HOLINESS WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD, PART 5

02/10/2015

I have been blogging for several weeks now on Christian holiness, which is the calling of every believer and too often a muddled subject in our day. We began by looking at Jerry Bridges, THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS, and went on to J. I. Packer’s 1992 classic, REDISCOVERING HOLINESS.

We are on Chapter 2—Exploring Holiness: Why Holiness is Necessary.

Packer begins with two truths: (1) We are all invalids in God’s hospital, sin sick invalids who do not see how sick they are and how deep the problem runs. (2) We are all prone to damaging delusions about our true condition. These include delusions of direct theological error, delusions of doubt and unbelief, delusions of self-confidence, delusions that disrupt relationships, delusions caused by failure to distinguish things that differ, and delusions that the Christian life will be one of ease, health, success and wealth, excitement punctuated by miracles, etc.

The aim of this chapter is to examine the whole work of divine grace in the individual as Scriptures reveals it. Packer begins by defining salvation, the “master theme” of all the New Testament. Salvation means rescue from jeopardy and misery so that one is now save. The New Testament teaches that God rescues sinners from sin’s guilt, sin’s power and sin’s presence, corresponding to justification, sanctification and glorification respectively.

Salvation is the joint work of the three members of the Divine trinity. The Father elects a people to salvation and sends the Son on a rescue mission.
The Son comes to earth and becomes man to substitute for guilty sinners in his living, dying, rising and exaltation. The Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ to
God’s elect so that they are born again, repentant, believing and united to Christ forever.

Christ comes to save a people so that they might be blameless and holy before Him. Sin had ruined them; God now rescues believing sinners and changes them into people bearing the righteousness of Christ, with all their sins atoned for and cleansed and who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who is actively at work to make them holy like God. He is indeed making a new people to inhabit eternity. God does not leave us in our sins; he cleanses from all sin and remakes us in His image.

Being a good teacher and Christian leader, Packer unpacks these truths in great detail and with much clarity. He brings the Scriptures together to make his points biblically. He is warm and practical and humble and pastoral.

As I have been saying, get these books and follow along with our study. God’s will is for you to be holy (2nd Thess. 4:3) and without holiness, none of us will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) but will be halted at the gate of heaven because we are not wearing the Christian family garb of holiness.

Next week is Chapter 3—“Appreciating Salvation—Where Holiness Begins”,

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 01:51:11 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


PURSUE HOLINESS WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD, Part 4

02/04/2015

For several weeks now I have been blogging about the best books, from a Reformed perspective, on the doctrine and experience of sanctification--the work of God's on-going grace, with the believer's cooperation, of growing into Christ-likeness and biblical holiness.

We began by looking at Jerry Bridges' 20th century classic, THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS. Is is perhaps the best primer for a believer wanting to understand and pursue holiness. It's companion piece, THE PRACTICE OF GODLINESS, helps the believer to establish new habit patterns of obedience to replace the old sinful habits accumulated over a lifetime. A faithful believer, using these two books as guides, would go deep into Christ-likness over a year's time, assuming faithful digestion and Spirit-sought help in application.

Today we begin a study of the 2nd book we previewed--one of J I. Packer's most important and least known books, REDISCOVERING HOLINESS. It was originally published with an obscure publisher and did not gain the notice it warranted. In my estimation it is one of the very best books on the Bible's teaching about sanctification and growth in holiness. It is eminently biblical, strongly theological, pastorally practical and personally motivating. This is the fourth time I have read it and it still pay great dividends in my life's pursuit of holiness.

Packer begins at the beginning. I am not being cute but realistic. As a teacher par excellence, Packer begins
with two motivational questions:

What is holiness?

Why does it matter?

A person who only casually picks up this book to "read a bit" about Christianity is not looking to be a holy man or woman of God. But their attention is grabbed almost immediately by Packer's historical analysis that holiness is lacking at the pew level and at the pulpit level and even at the seminary level. It is not of much concern to evangelicals at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century. And that is a pity "for it is central to the glory of God and the good of souls" (p. 12). Packer confesses that he mourns the church's current loss of biblical truth about holiness.

He then takes us on a brief helicopter tour of the past 300 years showing how God's holiness and the holiness of the believer were of great concern to the best Christians--the Puritans of the 17th century, the best preachers of the 18th century "Great Awakening",
and the holiness teachers that sprang up in the mid-19th through mid-20th centuries. The point being made is that holiness has been of concern for Protestants for centuries. Picking up the example of Isaac unstopping the wells that the Philistines had stopped up, he brings two applications for us today:

1. the recovery of old truth, which has been a means
of blessing in the past can become a blessing
again (while the quest for newer alternatives may
well prove barren)

2. No one should be daunted such a recovery by
current blindness, prejudice and unsympathetic
attitudes built up against the truth during the
time of its eclipse.

At this point Packer confesses that this is exactly
what he is seeking to do in his book--scrape the mud off the glorious truths that enriched the saints and the churches in the past and pray that God will open our eyes in our generation to this richer vein of spiritual gold.

He then moves to three important truths regarding holiness:

1.) Holiness, like prayer, is something for which Christians have an instinct for it through their new birth but have to grow up into it through experience.

2.) The process of learning to be holy is all under God's sovereign providence. God is the schoolmaster in the this school of holiness, He prepares His students, even calling on them when He know they are not prepared. giving them tests and showing them where work yet needs to be done.

3.) In God's school of holiness, our Lord Jesus Christ is with us, and we with Him in a controlling relationship of Master and servant, Leader and follower, Teacher and pupil. What most affects our growth in grace is not how many conferences or retreats we attend, or books we have read or our IQ but rather how much time have we spent in intimate fellowship with Christ.

Now Packer comes to DEFINING HOLINESS. He gives a definition using biblical terms. In both biblical languages, holy means separated and set apart unto God, consecrated and seeking to please Him. When applied to people the word implies both devotion and assimilation--devotion in the sense of living a life of service to God and assimilation in the sense of imitating, conforming to and becoming like the God one serves. He also notes that for Christians "this means taking God's moral law as our rule and God's incarnate Son as our model. This is where any study of holiness must start.
Packer then uses a checklist in the classic 19th century treatment of J. C. Ryle, HOLINESS. Ryle finds 12 expressions of holiness. They are gems and certainly biblical.

Under ASPECTS OF HOLINESS, Packer now adds four expressions of holiness he sees throughout Scripture:

1.) Holiness has to do with my heart.

2.) Holiness has to do with my temperament.

3.) Holiness has to do with my humanness

4.) Holiness had to do with my relationships.

After several pages of profound theological insight explaining each of these points, Packer then comes
to the $64,000 question: "Is holiness important for today?" (Readers of this blog must be informed that the average high school graduate reads very few books after high school and the ones he/she reads are books read to fix problems. So the pragmatic question being answered is: IS THIS STUFF IMPORTANT FOR ME TODAY ? Packer believes it is at the heart of biblical Christianity but almost forgotten today. It is seldom emphasized in preaching and teaching, it is seldom sought in church leadership, it is not a part of our evangelism.

But in reality, holiness is the goal of our redemption--God saved us that we might be holy (Ephesians 1:4).
Holiness is the true health of a believer. Holiness effectively thwarts Satan in his attempts to destroy our lives, holiness is the way to a life of spiritual fruitfulness and usefulness. Holiness is the substance of which happiness is the spin-off. If you reading this blog are a believer, then neither you nor me writing this can be happy as a believers unless we are making real strides in holiness!

If you have not come along for the ride, its not too late to join us on the tour of biblical holiness. Get a copy of these books and follow along. You will be glad you did.!

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 03:39:22 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


PURSUE HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD, PART 3

01/29/2015

Sometimes Christians agonize over knowing the will of God. It is as if they were playing the "hot & cold" game with God and He would let them know when they got close. Some recent authors have shown that knowing God's will has devolved into a pagan practice of deciphering providential tea leaves, and such. Interestingly, few authors note that Christ's Apostle makes clear in 1st Thessalonians 4:3--"This is the will of God, your sanctification..." How much plainer could Paul speak? The pursuit of holiness is not just for a select few "Green Beret" believers or the super-spiritual; the pursuit of holiness (sanctification) is God's revealed will for all Christians!

Two weeks ago we looked at one of the few classics of 20th century theology, Jerry Bridges' THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESSS; NavPress. Since its debut, it has sold almost a million copies, quite remarkable for a book on the subject of biblical holiness! Some Christian leaders I know called it a "dangerous books", one of the worst books of the late 20th century. Why? Because they were singularly committed to "Keswick theology" which I mentioned in my earlier blogs on this subject. Keswick theology emphasized passivity, "let go and let God".

Jerry Bridges' book emphasized that while initial salvation, justification, was due to the actions of God alone (monergistic=one source of energy at work), growth in grace and holiness (sanctification) involved God's role and my role (synergistic=two sources of energy at work). Because Jerry emphasized that believers were not passive but active in sanctification, Keswick theology critics decried the book. But for those who knew and loved their Bibles, the more careful handling of the Scriptures by Bridges won the day. See the following chapters and study them carefully for more on this:

Chapter 3--Holiness is not an option

Chapter 6--The Battle for Holiness

Chapter 7--Help in the Daily Battle

Chapter 8--Obedience--not Victory

Chapter 9--Putting Sin to Death

Chapter 10--The Place of Personal Discipline

Jerry did not teach a legalistic asceticism (abstaining from things God gave to His people for their good) nor did he teach a Pelagian emphasis upon self-effort that encouraged a macho self-discipline that would win the day. No, the faithful believer would he active, but also actively trusting in God the Holy Spirit who indwells each believer to empower them to be obedient in whatsoever God called the believer to be and do. (In a recent book, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; Crossway, Jerry emphasizes the importance of justification (the believing sinner is declared pardoned and righteous in Christ) AND the power of the Holy Spirit to enact changer in the believers life. Both despair and self-righteousness are avoided when both aspects of biblical sanctification are followed.

Have you read and studied Jerry's book? Have you come to a more biblical and therefore workable understanding of sanctification and the pursuit of holiness? Have you come to see that God's grace is transformative but does not leave the believer passive?

Next week we will begin J. I. Packer's 1992 classic, REDISCOVERING HOLINESS, a more fulsome and thorough examination of biblical holiness.

May 2015 be the year that you and I became more serious about holiness! May Christ be pleased and His glory spread abroad because of the holy lives His blood bought people lead.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 12:11:04 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


GONE TO THE G-3 CONFERENCE IN ATLANTA THIS WEEK--SEE YOU NEXT WEEK, D.V.

01/20/2015


Posted: 03:41:53 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


PURSUE HOLINESS WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD (Pt. 2)

01/13/2015

In this second blog on biblical holiness and sanctification, I want to review Jerry Bridges' THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS. It remains a classic because it is so biblical, theologically accurate and so clear and simple! The writing style is for the average Christian in the pew and the chapters are short. And the truths contained therein are powerful.

In Chapter 1 Jerry shows how HOLINESS: IT IS FOR YOU. It is not an esoteric subject for people with extra time on their hands and extra money money to blow (as one inner city pastor described how some holiness conferences viewed holiness).

Jerry shows from Scripture that though we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, we are sanctified by faith in the Spirit's working as we are working. Justification is monergistic (one energy source, God as he initiator). But Scripture is clear that growing in grace, sanctification involves both God's working and the believer's working too. Believers are not passive observers but active participants in sanctification.

Jerry also goes on to teach about obeying God in all things, not just the big things or what we may perceive to be big things but in all things. Why? Because He is the holy lawgiver and all creatures are bound to give Him implicit assent to His will.

In the send chapter, Jerry ties God's call to he holy to God's character as "holy, holy, holy". (Here I recommend R. C. Sproul's classic, THE HOLINESS OF GOD for the best treatment available on this most important of subjects.) We believers are to be holy because our Father in heaven who saved us is holy and He calls all His children to holiness.

Chapter 3 is HOLINESS IS NOT AN OPTION. He begins with a quote from Hebrews 12:14--"Make every effort...to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD." If I profess to be a Christian and do not have a desire for holiness nor work at holiness, then I am a false believer, a tare, a goat, a bad fish. The very purpose of our salvation what that we would be holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4). Our pursuit of holiness impacts our fellowship with God, our usefulness in ministry, our assurance of salvation

Chapter 4 opens up THE HOLINESS OF CHRIST. Christ saved us according to the Father's will that we might be holy and blameless like Him. One of Jerry's strengths is that for most of his life, he ministered through the NAVIGATORS, a ministry to men in the military and on college campuses that emphasizes obedience. So Jerry asks searching questions to help us to truly apply what we are learning. And he always has great quotations to bring the points home further.

Chapter 5 is A CHANGE OF KINGDOMS. We have been liberated from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light, of God's dear son. We have become united with Christ in what is sometimes called a "mystical union", a real organic union with the Savior by means of the working of the Holy Spirit. We no longer have to obey sin and Satan. We are no longer subject to their domaine or rule.

Chapter 6 is THE BATTLE FOR HOLINESS. Quoting from various passages in Scripture, Jerry shows how Christians are at war with their enemy, the devil, the Benedict Arnold of remaining sin without our lives seeking to betray us and the world to seduce us to its ways. We are never free in this life from Spiritual Conflict. As long as we are alive we are in the church militant (at war and in body armor). When we die and make it to heaven, we are the church victorious--believers who have finished their races and won the victor's crown.

In chapter 7 Jerry helps the reader to see that we have HELP IN THE DAILY BATTLE. Christians are not left to their own devices when it comes to spiritual warfare.
We have divine weapons able to bring down strongholds.
The 3rd member of the Holy Trinity now dwells in each believer, equipping and empowering them as they claim God the Holy Sprit's promises.

Chapter 8 was eye-opening for me: OBEDIENCE--NOT VICTORY. In my sub-biblical days, I wanted to be a victorious Christian. It began to dawn on me how self-centered and egotistic that was. Believers will not be free of sin or sinning in this lifetime. We are to aim at obedience and trust God the Father for the resources to be faithful (but not yet perfect).

Chapter 9 is PUTTING SIN TO DEATH. Called mortification by theologians, it means that by the Spirit Christians have the grace to stop sinning their pet sins.
They do not trust in themselves or their own ability but by the Spirit seek to put off the relics of the old man and put on the new man in Christ.

Chapter 10---THE PLACE OF PERSONAL DISCIPLINE
Christ does not exclusively live the Christian life through us. Keswick theology, mentioned above, teaches that Christ lives the Christian life through His people as they "let go and let God". Such passivity is not taught in the New Testament. Rather believers are to be independently dependent upon Christ.

Chapter 11--HOLINESS IN BODY means that we are to bring under the control of the Spirit our appetites, our cravings, our eating and drinking, our entertainments. Christians are not called to laziness nor self-indulgence. They are called to have each sphere of their existence under the Lordship of Christ.

Chapter 12--HOLINESS IN SPIRIT means that our thoughts and emotions and day dreams and ambitions are all to be given over to Christ and submissive to Him.
We can focus on externals and believe ourselves to be doing well. But if we examine the chess pool of our hearts, we can still see large portions of pride, lust, envy, worry, etc.

Chapter 13--HOLINESS AND OUR WILLS.
Depending upon where our thoughts and desires have gone, so will our wills move. As wholly integrated people, we cannot separate our wills from our heart and minds. Renewing our minds to think biblically, according to the mind of Christ prepares our hearts for holy desires and ambitions and prepares our wills to choose such behavior.

Chapter 14--HOLINESS AND HABITS
Obedience is not something we do just once. Holiness is to become the habitual habit of our lives, the constant of who we are and what we seek. Learning to put into practice aspects of holiness means that as we do them over time, they become habits of the heart, they become our new Christian character.

Chapter 15--HOLINESS AND FAITH
This chapter shows us that we make no progress in any area of our Christian life without our faith. Faith is not a static, unchanging reality but an every changing reality that we must constantly add to and increase. What's more, the path to holiness and Christ-likeness is often contrary to our reason. We must trust God, put our head down, and obey Him BY FAITH, however strange or foolish our actions of obedience may appear.

Chapter 16--HOLINESS IN AN UNHOLY WORLD
A mentally alert believer may wonder if we can every attain holiness given the great ungodliness and unholiness in our lifetime. Again we are shown God's vast resources to keep us holy and to enable us to make it finally to heaven.

Chapter 17--THE JOY OF HOLINESS
We might never put together holiness AND joy in our minds. But God does and mature Christians should. Jerry would later write THE JOY OF FEARING GOD and though it does not sell as well as his other books, its teaching is nevertheless clear and biblical. But modern Christians don't think they should fear God but should be as comfortable and familiar to Him as a divine buddy!
Jerry shows us the way ahead in this chapter.

REMEMBER: The chapters are SHORT. Though there are 17 of them, they are short, punchy, to the point chapters. There are 156 pages of a small paperback. But they are worth their weight in gold, they are that good.
I have read this book for my own edification several times and taught it several more times. PLEASE, PICK IT UP AND READ IT AND PUT IT INTO PRACTICER ! You
won't regret it.

NEXT WEEK: REDISCOVERING HOLINESS by James
Packer

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 03:12:52 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


JONATHAN EDWARDS--AMERICAN GENIUS

01/12/2015

JONATHAN EDWARDS: AMERICA'S GENIUS
By: Christian George
Christian Focus Publications

===================================
BOOK REVIEW BY JACKSON NANCE, MY GRANDSON !
===================================

Jonathan Edwards: America’s Genius
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Author: Christian George
Type of Book: Christian Biography
Number of pages in book: 158
Where the book takes place: New York, Connecticut, New Jersey

Jonathan Edwards was a godly man of talent, intelligence, and most importantly, character. He was born of a good, godly family in 1703.

His father was a minister and his mother a homemaker. When he was a boy, Jonathan was interested in spiders and plants. He had his own prayer booth in a swamp near his house where he would thank God for these things and pray for certain sins to be forgiven and supplication to be answered.

Jonathan Edwards entered the college of Yale at age 13, because he was so intelligent. In 1720, Edwards graduated from Yale and went on to tutor and teach there from 1724-1726. In 1727, Edward began his new pastorate at Northampton Presbyterian Church and proposed marriage to Sarah Pierpont. She said yes.

In 1733, through the ministry of Jonathan Edwards, his church in Northampton went through stunning religious revival and in 1739, the Great Awakening took place. In 1741, Edwards preached perhaps his most famous sermon titled: “Sinners in the Hands Of An Angry God.” In 1749, Jonathan Edwards conducted his good friend David Brainerd’s sad but glorious funeral that brought much mourning.

In 1758, Edwards was offered the position of president at the university of Princeton in west central New Jersey. He brought many students there to the Lord through his teaching and preaching.

Not quite a year after Jonathan Edwards and his family moved to west Central New Jersey and Princeton, Jonathan died of small pox, which included a sore throat and high fever. Samuel Hopkins, a friend of the Edwards family later remarked Sarah Edward’s thoughts when Jonathan died: “Though Edward’s wife grieved deeply at the terrible loss of her soul mate, she was quiet and resigned and had these invisible supports which enabled her to trust in God with hope and humble joy.” Seven months later, Sarah Edwards died and was buried next to her husband at Princeton University.

Jonathan Edwards was and is a man to look up to. His theology and sermons really inspired those learning from him. We can still really learn from the godliness of Jonathan Edwards today.

==================================
The author of this book report, Jackson Nance, is eleven years old and lives with his family in Charlotte, NC.


Posted: 08:23:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


PURSUE HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD

01/08/2015

It was Spring, 1971. I had just finished a bicycle ride over hill and dale as part of a Youth Retreat in southern California. We rode some 26 miles and my blue jeans and sweatshirt were not prepared for what proved to be a grueling ride.But along the way I had a chance to think, when my aching thighs were not burning, about a verse I had read that week in my personal devotions.

The verse read as follows: "Pursue...holiness without
which no one will see the Lord" (NASB). As a recent convert to Christianity, I had come under the form of teaching which historically went under the name of "Keswick theology". It was named after a resort district in England where religious camps were held and the unique theology of growing in holiness and Christ-likeness took the name of the region--"Keswick theology". It taught the believer to "let go and let God", the idea that believers were sanctified by faith alone as they were justified by faith alone in Christ alone. But as I came to experience and later learn, that Keswick theology was novel, new and because it was not wholly biblical it was not really helpful in the long term.

But what became clear in my mind on that bicycle ride was that personal holiness was not an option. In my previous thinking, holiness was an option one adopted later in the Christian life. I still wanted to have fun and be a "cool Christian", whatever that was! Now it became clear that holiness was not an option to be embraced by the "Green Beret" Christian, it was a necessity for every professing Christian. I knew from Scripture and from personal experience that not everyone who professed faith in Christ was truly a believer.

The more I studied my Bible and read good Christian books and listened to sermons and thought, it gradually became clear to me that the type of teaching I had sat under for seven years was not fully biblical. And it came to a head when I was going through a breakdown caused by excessive work and little sleep. And my Keswick taught me that "every day can be an exciting adventure for the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit and lives under His gracious control". My days were not one of "exciting adventure" but of depression, misery, darkness and at times hopelessness. And Keswick theology taught that victorious Christians never had bad days, let alone weeks or months! One early morning in my devotional it dawned on me that our Lord's time in he Garden of Gethsemane was not "victorious" nor "an exciting adventure". Surely our Lord was not "carnal"; surely our Lord was perfectly doing the Father's will, but he was miserable--and obeyed in the midst of weakness, heartache and misery. (J. C. Ryle once observed that Luke's gospel records that an angel was dispatched from heaven to strengthen Christ to help him finish the task at hand. Ryle went on to say that when he got to heaven he wanted to thank that angel personally for helping our Savior finish the work of saving us!).

In God's perfect timing, after pursuing holiness according to the Keswick theology's understanding for seven years, God opened my eyes to see where it was not fully biblical and therefore not truly helpful. In reading through Romans with Dr. Donald Barnhouse, I came to see God's larger plan of salvation and began to see the biblical and Reformed doctrine of sanctification.
It saved my sanity, or at least what was left of it. And I had come to see the vast scope of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. I soon left my student ministry because I could no longer in good conscience teach Keswick theology nor their minimalistic doctrine of salvation. I had found the treasure hidden in a field and had to let go of everything in order to keep it.

Since those critical years of 1971-1976 I have studied and learned much, much more about what the Word of God teaches about Christians growing in grace and in Christ-likeness. As a pastor-teacher since 1981 I have taught God's people in various venues aspects of the biblical and Reformed doctrine of holiness/ sanctification. In this New Year, I thought I would help you read and learn from the best teachers on sanctification. So I will help you work through three books beginning this year:

1st--Jerry Bridges, THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS
(1978) (a good basic study of sanctification
by one of the best simplifiers and explainers
of Reformed theology.)

2nd--James Packer, REDISCOVERING HOLINESS
(1992) (a thorough study that fills in the blanks
and gives a thorough grounding.)

3rd--Kevin DeYoung, THE HOLE IN OUR HOLINESS
(2012) (Bridges and Packer updated for the
21st century and applied to millennials and
anyone else who is teachable.)

Why not join me in this travel through three great books that will mean so much to your Christian life? Why not begin 2015 by making your calling and election sure? Why not begin 2015 bringing a smile to the Savior as you seek to conform your life more and more to His?

I remain you book servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 03:20:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


THE TOP BOOKS THAT SHAPED MY LIFE AS A CHRISTIAN AND PASTOR

12/29/2014

For many, the end of the year means a retrospective on the past year or perhaps a preview of the year to come. Last week I listed what I thought were the most important books published in 2014. Today I wanted to tell you about the books that have most shaped my Christian life. By the grace of God I was converted in
January of 1969 in the middle of my Junior Year in college.

The person who led me to Christ gave me a book and a booklet and I was off and running (or stumbling as the metaphor may be better applied). The book was the New Testament, GOOD NEWS FOR MODERN MAN; American Bible Society. It was the New Testament in contemporary language and it even had drawings! I devoured that little paperback.

The booklet was MY HEART, CHRIST'S HOME by Robert Munger; IVP. It told about the importance of communion with Christ every day and submitting all the various facets of our lives to Christ (Romans 12:1-2). It spoke to my condition and was very helpful and I have read it many times since.

Two books that early on captured me were THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY by A. W. Tozer and KNOWING GOD by James Packer. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY was my first exposure to thinking about God Himself in his triunity and unity. Tozer was a student of the early church fathers and they taught him and he taught me. God's attributes or characteristics grew and captured my mind. The beauty of God was before me. Packer's KNOWING GOD showed me stout and enrapturing truth with a doctrinal face. Packer had read seemingly everyone but I could tell he was reading big men who knew a big God. I wanted to know this big God with His big salvation that underlaid this book. (I have read it many times since.) As I continued to grow, God made me more and more of a reader. And my Christian reading was always more pleasurable than my assigned readings for college.

In the mid-seventies I came to see the doctrines of grace while motoring through Romans with Donald G. Barnhouse. What a great teacher and expositor of the Word of God! And what a magnificent Being was the God of the Bible I was now seeing more clearly!! My doctrinal realignment caused me to leave the student ministry I had been a part of and seek other employment in the gospel ministry.

It was at this time that I read Jerry Bridges' THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS. As he opened what the Bible taught on Christian sanctification (the pursuit of holiness) I saw it to be much more biblical and realistic than the brand of evangelical holiness teaching I had been exposed to for eight years. And Jerry Bridges named names and books and I began to seek out the company of Charles Hodge, John Owen and Jonathan Edwards.

Even in seminary though, with its mounds of reading, I read for my soul's sake. Seminary can be deceptive and one can mistake growing in knowledge for growing in holiness. I read two big books that covered the time I was in seminary: John Owen, TEMPTATION AND SIN, volume 6 of his complete works; and Arnold Dallimore's THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GEORGE WHITEFIELD. Owen helped me to deal with sin in my life; Whitefield showed me humility, love and the power that God can work into a man's ministry. I came to see I was a child and knew nothing. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord. I was learning to make personal holiness my daily priority!

After seminary, as a young Associate Pastor, I continued to read widely and with a bit more discernment. R. C. Sproul's THE HOLINESS OF GOD captured my attention and its truth captured my heart.
About the same time I read Martyn Lloyd-Jones' AUTHORITY which showed the authority of Christ, the authority of the Bible and the authority of the Holy Spirit which He gives to a preacher and a church (and can take away from a preacher and a church). I then read Iain Murray's first volume of his biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones THE FIGHT OF FAITH, the first forty years of the man's life. I learned more in reading that book (and rereading it many more times again) than I did from any seminary class or other book on pastoral ministry.

In the years to come Jerry Bridges TRUSTING GOD (Even When Life Hurts) about the providence of God thrilled and filled my soul with wholesome doctrine while saving my sanity. It was the first American book on the subject of the providence of God in the 20th century (it was published in 1988) and it glorified God while saving the sanity of those who read it and took it to heart.

Iain Murray's THE FORGOTTEN SPURGEON showed me how and why Charles Spurgeon was a great man and greatly used of God. Murray's later book on SPURGEON VS. HYPER-CALVINISM also met a need at that time as I was around hyper-Calvinists in the southern USA. Murray's REVIVALS AND REVIVALISM: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism opened my eyes to the bigger religious context and helped me to see how deviate doctrine and novel practices harmed the churches and I was still having to deal with them a century after they had been hatched.

Later in my life and ministry, Iain Murray's EVANGELICALISM DIVIDED showed me how 21st century evangelicals had created their own messes on the heals of the ones made by he 19th century inventors of man-centered revivals.

As a pastor to my people, I was always looking for books and materials that would help me minister to people. I came to appreciate Peter Jeffery's small books that showed how to feed sheep and not just giraffes. Some Reformed folks are good at feeding giraffe's (look at all the big books they publish) but seemed to struggle at feeding sheep. Peter Jeffery was converted out of a blue collar background and never forgot his roots when it came to ministry. Such excellent food for sheep included FROM RELIGION TO CHRIST (John 3 and the need for a new birth). He has many other titles to help young sheep grow.

When it came to suffering and such, Jerry Bridges
(TRUSTING GOD: EVEN WHEN LIFE HURTS; THE JOY OF FEARING GOD; IS GOD REALLY IN CONTROL?) helped greatly along with Ron Dunn (WHEN HEAVEN IS SILENT) taking us deeper into the deep things of God. He lost a son to suicide at 17 and God took him to a special class on suffering and the unknown places of God's affections.

Thankfully, God is not through with me and His mercies are new every morning. Besides sitting under the preaching of the Word of God, reading good Christian books continues to be the means used of God to growing me into a semblance of Christ.

What Christian books have most impacted you? Would you care to share with them with me. My list was certainly not exhaustive but representative. What have been your great helpers, what men and women stirred your heart with the Word of God. Who has God used to change your life? Your input would be most welcome!

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 04:23:49 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


THE MOST IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN BOOKS OF 2014

12/24/2014

THE MOST IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN BOOKS OF 2014

Of course, this list will be subjective. Who am I to give the definitive list of best books for the past year? How can I know how Almighty God will choose to use them in the lives of His people and the lives of the lost? How could I know what books will sell and what books will sit on the shelves ?

I base my choices on 31 years of pastoral ministry and ten years of student ministry. During all that time, I almost always had a book table and gave books away to students, laymen and other pastors. I have come to know and love those authors who are biblical, evangelical and Reformed. I love those authors who put the cookies down where we call can reach them (or to put it another way, those communicators who can feed sheep and not just giraffes!). I love those authors who dig deep into the biblical text, church history and theology and who communicate clearly what they have learned. I am a midget who has stood on the shoulders of giants.

Here are my choices (not in order of importance, but by categories):

BIBLICAL COMMENTARIES & EXPOSITIONS:

JOB (The Wisdom of the Cross) by Christopher Ash (Preaching the Word Series); Crossway—among all the good commentaries on Job, this stands out for how it connects the message of Job to Christ and His cross. A moving exposition.

LEVITICUS by Jay Sklar (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries); IVP—I have used Dr. Sklar’s earlier material on sacrifice in Leviticus and found it very helpful. This surpasses the earlier volume in this series by Professor R. K. Harrison.

PSALMS (Vol. 2—Psalms 42-89) by Allen Ross; Kregel Exegetical Library; Kregel—for any who have used his other fine volumes (GENESIS, LEVITICUS, et al) they will know what a good exegete Professor Ross is and his sensitivity to the lives of Christians. Volume 3 finishes the Psalter and comes out in early February.

SLOGGING ALONG IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Psalms 13-24) by Dale Ralph Davis; Christian Focus—the 2nd volume in this new series of expositions of the Psalms picks up where the first volume left off. Vintage Dale Ralph Davis!

CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHY, CHURCH HISTORY AND HISTORICAL THEOLOGY:

GOD TOOK ME BY THE HAND by Jerry Bridges; NavPress—a man who has been a teacher and example to many tells his life story, warts and all, and how God gracious led him by the hand. The surprises in this biography helped me immensely!

HOLDING COMMUNION TOGETHER (The Reformed Baptists, the First Fifty Years: Divided and United); by Tom Chantry and David Dykstra; Solid Ground Christian
Books—a controversial book even before it was published, it details in ups and downs of Calvinistic Baptists to reclaim their confessional and covenantal roots. An insightful, sad and at times exhilarating story that had to be told. God’s ways are indeed mysterious.

PATRICK OF IRELAND by Michael Haykin; Christian Focus--behind the myth and legend of “St. Patrick”, Professor Michael Haykin uncovers the godly and resolute man whom God used to transform Ireland

THE JUVENILIZATION OF AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY by Thomas Bergler; Eerdmans—this study came out in late 2012 but I did not get hold of a copy and read it until this year--SO I AM COUNTING IT AS A 2014 CHOICE. I believe it faithfully chronicles how the evangelical push to reach the youth culture ended up impacting the evangelical churches and making them more appealing to youth than adults. Evangelicals can be more faithful to sub-cultures they hope to impact than to the Lord they profess to love.

THE PURE FLAME OF DEVOTION (The History of Christian Spirituality); edited by Stephen Weaver and Ian Clary [Essays in Honor of Michael Haykin]; Joshua Press—this
collection of chapters by admirers of Dr. Haykin’s work covers nearly 2000 years of Christian history and shows what spirituality looked like along the way.

THEOLOGIANS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; edited by Stephen Nichols and Justin Taylor; Crossway—this helpful series covers how various theologians interpreted the Bible and the Christian life. Volumes available so far are:
--BONHOEFFER ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by
Stephen Nichols
--CALVIN ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Mike
Horton
--EDWARDS ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Dane
Ortlund
--SCHAEFFER ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by
William Edgar
--WARFIELD ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Fred
Zaspel
--WESLEY ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Fred
Sanders

CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONAL READING:

ESV READERS BIBLE; Crossway—since the Middle Ages when chapter and verse divisions were added to our Bibles to help us find our ways around, readers of the Bible have had their reading impacted by all the interruptions—verses and chapter breaks that disrupt the flow of the author’s argument. This new edition does away with these interruptions so you can read whole books at a time like earlier Bible readers did and go through more of the Bible each time you sit down to read it.

REFORMATION HERITAGE KJV STUDY BIBLE; edited by Beeke, Barrett, Bilkes and Smalley; Reformation Heritage—this new “study Bible” is a rare gem in that it has one eye on family devotions so that the comments on each page are slanted towards family worship and edification. I don’t use the KJV but I have this study Bible at my side when I do Bible study because the notes are so helpful.

EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS:

DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT (Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places) by Tim Keesee; Crossway—a book that is hard to put down. Filled with stories of what is going on right now around the world in hard places where simple Christians and unknown preachers are capturing many for Christ. If you buy this book, look for the videos too—seven now in all—where a picture is worth a thousand words. Heart motivating material that is understated, not hyped!

FROM EVERY TRIBE AND NATION (A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story) by Mark Noll; Baker Books—this is the story of Mark Noll’s journey from his fundamentalist Baptist church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa through college at Wheaton, seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Ph. D. work at Vanderbilt and then teaching about Reformation and American Christianity. Professor Noll then takes us on a book length journey following him as he learns about what God is doing beyond America and Reformation Europe and expands his conceptions of God’s Kingdom and
power.

PRACTICAL THEOLOGY:

EXPOSITIONAL PREACHING (How We Speak God’s Word Today) by David Helm; Crossway—a great primer on how to preach and how not to preach, clearly written.

FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD (Trusting, Reading and Applying the Bible) by Sinclair Ferguson; Banner of Truth—a rich and warm hearted examination of how we should view the Word of God and treat it as we read it and obey it.

GOD IN THE WHIRLWIND (How the Holy Love of God Re-Orients Our World) by David Wells; Crossway—the culmination of over 20 years of study (and 5 previous
volumes) of what has happened to evangelical Christianity in American. This volume shows what the evangelical church must believe and change if it is to survive and recover.

ORDINARY (Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World) by Michael Horton; Zondervan—published with a cover to match the bestseller RADICAL, this books aims To show that however well intentioned RADICAL was, it is not totally on target and that in fact RADICAL fits in more with the contemporary American culture than it does biblical Christianity. Sane, sober and solid handling of Scripture marks Horton’s study.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE (A Biblical & Balanced Perspective) by Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura; Reformation Heritage Books—two Reformed Baptist pastors give us a sane and Biblical study of spiritual warfare and what believers should think and do about it.

TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD (Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me) by Kevin DeYoung; Crossway—this book and the one above by Sinclair Ferguson are bookends on how we ought to view and handle and obey God’s Word. Highly recommended.

WHAT’S BEST NEXT (How The Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done) by Matt Perman; Zondervan—highly regarded as a Christian way to approach planning, management, goal-setting and evaluation. Not much else like it.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY:

BUILDING A GODLY HOME (A Holy Vision For Family Life) by William Gouge; Reformation Heritage Books—Puritan pastor/theologian Gouge tells us how to organize and lead our families toward a biblical goal.

GOD’S DESIGN FOR MAN AND WOMAN (A Biblical-Theological Survey) by Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger; Crossway—a tour de force study of what the Bible teaches about masculinity, femininity, marriage roles, and pleasing God By a first rank New Testament scholar and a women’s studies scholar who is published in this area.

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY FOR EVERYONE:

ANTINOMIANISM (Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest) by Mark Jones; P & R—a great book on an often misunderstood subject. What antinomianism is and is not is clearly explained and examples abound. Current candidates of teachers espousing antinomian positions are also noted and refuted.

CONFESSING THE FAITH (A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith) by Chad Van Dixhoorn; Banner of Truth—Dr. Van Dixhoorn is a world class expert on the Westminster Assembly and takes the reader by the hand through the Westminster Confession. Should be mastered by all Presbyterians and those who profess to love the Confession.

FROM HEAVEN HE CAME AND SOUGHT HER (Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological and Pastoral Perspective); edited by David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson; Crossway—a once in a lifetime book with the best Reformed scholars showing that Christ’s atonement was definite and particular—He got what He paid for to put it bluntly. One negative review I read showed the antipathy of the author and the fact that
he either did not read the book or read it in a cursory fashion. This is a great and important treatment that can be incendiary for some.

INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION by John Calvin (1541 edition); translated by Robert White; Banner of Truth—finally an edition of Calvin’s INSTITUTES that is friendly to laymen and those who don’t spend their days reading theological literature but who love a good Christian book. Calvin’s INSTITUTES is great because it can be understood and profited from by a serious layman. Thank you Robert White and Banner
of Truth.

RECOVERING A COVENANTAL HERITAGE (Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology); edited by Richard Barcellos; Reformed Baptist Academic Press—thirteen confessional Reformed Baptist authors and John Owen are brought to bear to show how the confessional Reformed Baptist understanding of the covenants is not the same as the Presbyterian understanding of the covenants. A foundational book for Baptists.

ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGY & PRACTICE (An Evangelical Assessment) by Gregg Allison; Crossway—using their own official catechism, Professor Allison shows what Roman Catholics believe and do not believe and how that impacts their practice of Christianity. It is a timely reminder of why we should be so grateful for the Reformation of the 16th century.

SALVATION APPLIED BY THE SPIRIT (Union With Christ) by Robert Peterson; Crossway—Professor Peterson has already put us in his debt with his earlier volume, SALVATION ACCOMPLISHED BY THE SON. This newest volume shows all the ways in which God the Holy Spirit applies all that Christ has done for us to us. And he clearly helps with the sometimes vague concept of “union with Christ”. A textbook of great theology!

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY: THE BEAUTY OF CHRIST: A TRINITARIAN VISION by Douglas Kelly; Christian Focus/
Mentor. One of our best theologians writes a profound and moving theology of the 2nd member of the Trinity within the framework of a full blown theology. Priceless!

THE THEOLOGY OF THE WESTMINSTER STANDARDS by J. V. Fesko; Crossway—this volume will be the standard for a long time in explaining the theology of the
Westminster Confession, the Shorter and Longer Catechisms and the Book of Church
Order. Presbyterian and Reformed office bearers and reading laymen should master this book!

Perhaps you have your own favorite list and would like to share it with us all by putting it on the blog page.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
www.thelogcollege.wordpress.com

Posted: 03:01:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


THE MOST IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN BOOKS OF 2014

THE MOST IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN BOOKS OF 2014

Of course, this list will be subjective. Who am I to give the definitive list of best books for the past year? How can I know how Almighty God will choose to use them in the lives of His people and the lives of the lost? How could I know what books will sell and what books will sit on the shelves ?

I base my choices on 31 years of pastoral ministry and ten years of student ministry. During all that time, I almost always had a book table and gave books away to students, laymen and other pastors. I have come to know and love those authors who are biblical, evangelical and Reformed. I love those authors who put the cookies down where we call can reach them (or to put it another way, those communicators who can feed sheep and not just giraffes!). I love those authors who dig deep into the biblical text, church history and theology and who communicate clearly what they have learned. I am a midget who has stood on the shoulders of giants.

Here are my choices (not in order of importance, but by categories):

BIBLICAL COMMENTARIES & EXPOSITIONS:

JOB (The Wisdom of the Cross) by Christopher Ash (Preaching the Word Series); Crossway—among all the good commentaries on Job, this stands out for how it connects the message of Job to Christ and His cross. A moving exposition.

LEVITICUS by Jay Sklar (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries); IVP—I have used Dr. Sklar’s earlier material on sacrifice in Leviticus and found it very helpful. This surpasses the earlier volume in this series by Professor R. K. Harrison.

PSALMS (Vol. 2—Psalms 42-89) by Allen Ross; Kregel Exegetical Library; Kregel—for any who have used his other fine volumes (GENESIS, LEVITICUS, et al) they will know what a good exegete Professor Ross is and his sensitivity to the lives of Christians. Volume 3 finishes the Psalter and comes out in early February.

SLOGGING ALONG IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Psalms 13-24) by Dale Ralph Davis; Christian Focus—the 2nd volume in this new series of expositions of the Psalms picks up where the first volume left off. Vintage Dale Ralph Davis!

CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHY, CHURCH HISTORY AND HISTORICAL THEOLOGY:

GOD TOOK ME BY THE HAND by Jerry Bridges; NavPress—a man who has been a teacher and example to many tells his life story, warts and all, and how God gracious led him by the hand. The surprises in this biography helped me immensely!

HOLDING COMMUNION TOGETHER (The Reformed Baptists, the First Fifty Years: Divided and United); by Tom Chantry and David Dykstra; Solid Ground Christian
Books—a controversial book even before it was published, it details in ups and downs of Calvinistic Baptists to reclaim their confessional and covenantal roots. An insightful, sad and at times exhilarating story that had to be told. God’s ways are indeed mysterious.

PATRICK OF IRELAND by Michael Haykin; Christian Focus--behind the myth and legend of “St. Patrick”, Professor Michael Haykin uncovers the godly and resolute man whom God used to transform Ireland

THE JUVENILIZATION OF AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY by Thomas Bergler; Eerdmans—this study came out in late 2012 but I did not get hold of a copy and read it until this year--SO I AM COUNTING IT AS A 2014 CHOICE. I believe it faithfully chronicles how the evangelical push to reach the youth culture ended up impacting the evangelical churches and making them more appealing to youth than adults. Evangelicals can be more faithful to sub-cultures they hope to impact than to the Lord they profess to love.

THE PURE FLAME OF DEVOTION (The History of Christian Spirituality); edited by Stephen Weaver and Ian Clary [Essays in Honor of Michael Haykin]; Joshua Press—this
collection of chapters by admirers of Dr. Haykin’s work covers nearly 2000 years of Christian history and shows what spirituality looked like along the way.

THEOLOGIANS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; edited by Stephen Nichols and Justin Taylor; Crossway—this helpful series covers how various theologians interpreted the Bible and the Christian life. Volumes available so far are:
--BONHOEFFER ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by
Stephen Nichols
--CALVIN ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Mike
Horton
--EDWARDS ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Dane
Ortlund
--SCHAEFFER ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by
William Edgar
--WARFIELD ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Fred
Zaspel
--WESLEY ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Fred
Sanders

CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONAL READING:

ESV READERS BIBLE; Crossway—since the Middle Ages when chapter and verse divisions were added to our Bibles to help us find our ways around, readers of the Bible have had their reading impacted by all the interruptions—verses and chapter breaks that disrupt the flow of the author’s argument. This new edition does away with these interruptions so you can read whole books at a time like earlier Bible readers did and go through more of the Bible each time you sit down to read it.

REFORMATION HERITAGE KJV STUDY BIBLE; edited by Beeke, Barrett, Bilkes and Smalley; Reformation Heritage—this new “study Bible” is a rare gem in that it has one eye on family devotions so that the comments on each page are slanted towards family worship and edification. I don’t use the KJV but I have this study Bible at my side when I do Bible study because the notes are so helpful.

EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS:

DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT (Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places) by Tim Keesee; Crossway—a book that is hard to put down. Filled with stories of what is going on right now around the world in hard places where simple Christians and unknown preachers are capturing many for Christ. If you buy this book, look for the videos too—seven now in all—where a picture is worth a thousand words. Heart motivating material that is understated, not hyped!

FROM EVERY TRIBE AND NATION (A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story) by Mark Noll; Baker Books—this is the story of Mark Noll’s journey from his fundamentalist Baptist church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa through college at Wheaton, seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Ph. D. work at Vanderbilt and then teaching about Reformation and American Christianity. Professor Noll then takes us on a book length journey following him as he learns about what God is doing beyond America and Reformation Europe and expands his conceptions of God’s Kingdom and
power.

PRACTICAL THEOLOGY:

EXPOSITIONAL PREACHING (How We Speak God’s Word Today) by David Helm; Crossway—a great primer on how to preach and how not to preach, clearly written.

FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD (Trusting, Reading and Applying the Bible) by Sinclair Ferguson; Banner of Truth—a rich and warm hearted examination of how we should view the Word of God and treat it as we read it and obey it.

GOD IN THE WHIRLWIND (How the Holy Love of God Re-Orients Our World) by David Wells; Crossway—the culmination of over 20 years of study (and 5 previous
volumes) of what has happened to evangelical Christianity in American. This volume shows what the evangelical church must believe and change if it is to survive and recover.

ORDINARY (Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World) by Michael Horton; Zondervan—published with a cover to match the bestseller RADICAL, this books aims To show that however well intentioned RADICAL was, it is not totally on target and that in fact RADICAL fits in more with the contemporary American culture than it does biblical Christianity. Sane, sober and solid handling of Scripture marks Horton’s study.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE (A Biblical & Balanced Perspective) by Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura; Reformation Heritage Books—two Reformed Baptist pastors give us a sane and Biblical study of spiritual warfare and what believers should think and do about it.

TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD (Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me) by Kevin DeYoung; Crossway—this book and the one above by Sinclair Ferguson are bookends on how we ought to view and handle and obey God’s Word. Highly recommended.

WHAT’S BEST NEXT (How The Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done) by Matt Perman; Zondervan—highly regarded as a Christian way to approach planning, management, goal-setting and evaluation. Not much else like it.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY:

BUILDING A GODLY HOME (A Holy Vision For Family Life) by William Gouge; Reformation Heritage Books—Puritan pastor/theologian Gouge tells us how to organize and lead our families toward a biblical goal.

GOD’S DESIGN FOR MAN AND WOMAN (A Biblical-Theological Survey) by Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger; Crossway—a tour de force study of what the Bible teaches about masculinity, femininity, marriage roles, and pleasing God By a first rank New Testament scholar and a women’s studies scholar who is published in this area.

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY FOR EVERYONE:

ANTINOMIANISM (Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest) by Mark Jones; P & R—a great book on an often misunderstood subject. What antinomianism is and is not is clearly explained and examples abound. Current candidates of teachers espousing antinomian positions are also noted and refuted.

CONFESSING THE FAITH (A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith) by Chad Van Dixhoorn; Banner of Truth—Dr. Van Dixhoorn is a world class expert on the Westminster Assembly and takes the reader by the hand through the Westminster Confession. Should be mastered by all Presbyterians and those who profess to love the Confession.

FROM HEAVEN HE CAME AND SOUGHT HER (Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological and Pastoral Perspective); edited by David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson; Crossway—a once in a lifetime book with the best Reformed scholars showing that Christ’s atonement was definite and particular—He got what He paid for to put it bluntly. One negative review I read showed the antipathy of the author and the fact that
he either did not read the book or read it in a cursory fashion. This is a great and important treatment that can be incendiary for some.

INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION by John Calvin (1541 edition); translated by Robert White; Banner of Truth—finally an edition of Calvin’s INSTITUTES that is friendly to laymen and those who don’t spend their days reading theological literature but who love a good Christian book. Calvin’s INSTITUTES is great because it can be understood and profited from by a serious layman. Thank you Robert White and Banner
of Truth.

RECOVERING A COVENANTAL HERITAGE (Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology); edited by Richard Barcellos; Reformed Baptist Academic Press—thirteen confessional Reformed Baptist authors and John Owen are brought to bear to show how the confessional Reformed Baptist understanding of the covenants is not the same as the Presbyterian understanding of the covenants. A foundational book for Baptists.

ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGY & PRACTICE (An Evangelical Assessment) by Gregg Allison; Crossway—using their own official catechism, Professor Allison shows what Roman Catholics believe and do not believe and how that impacts their practice of Christianity. It is a timely reminder of why we should be so grateful for the Reformation of the 16th century.

SALVATION APPLIED BY THE SPIRIT (Union With Christ) by Robert Peterson; Crossway—Professor Peterson has already put us in his debt with his earlier volume, SALVATION ACCOMPLISHED BY THE SON. This newest volume shows all the ways in which God the Holy Spirit applies all that Christ has done for us to us. And he clearly helps with the sometimes vague concept of “union with Christ”. A textbook of great theology!

THE THEOLOGY OF THE WESTMINSTER STANDARDS by J. V. Fesko; Crossway—this volume will be the standard for a long time in explaining the theology of the
Westminster Confession, the Shorter and Longer Catechisms and the Book of Church
Order. Presbyterian and Reformed office bearers and reading laymen should master this book!

Perhaps you have your own favorite list and would like to share it with us all by putting it on the blog page.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
www.thelogcollege.wordpress.com

Posted: 03:00:58 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


UNBROKEN

12/15/2014

UNBROKEN is the best-selling biography in America over the past five years. It has continued to sell well in hardcover for all this time, just now coming out in paperback. It is read and marveled at by Christian and non-christian alike, by men and women alike, by young and old alike. It would make a great Christmas gift for non-readers and readers alike. This book gets read!

Best selling author and historian/biographer Laura Hillenbrand (SEABISCUIT) tells a story that is so amazing it gives credence to the idea that truth is stranger than fiction. You couldn’t make this story up!

Hillenbrand tells the gripping and engrossing story of Louie Zamperini, a second generation Italian immigrant whose parents moved him and his older brother to Torrance, California in the 1920’s. A rebel with quick fists, quicker feet and an engaging grin, Louis thieved, fought, ran and charmed his way through his neighborhood, public schools, police holding cells, track races and finally stability and fame as a great high school track athlete who ran in Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It was expected that he would be the first one to break the mythical 4 minute mile barrier. After graduation from high school, Louie attended Southern Cal on a track scholarship to pursue the record. His times went down and down and he was seconds from the coveted 4 minute mile.

But when America was bombed at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Louie enlisted and was later assigned to the (then) Army Air Force. Patrolling the Pacific Ocean in a large B-24 bomber, Louis and his crewmates survived aerial dogfights, near misses and worked at rescuing other crewmen from planes shot down or which had to ditch at sea.

The drama enlarges as Louie’s plane crashes in the Pacific when they lost their engines. He and two other crewmen are the lone survivors--in a small 2-man raft! The record for men surviving in the open ocean was 24 days when Louie and his mates started their incredible journey. These three men pushed the record for survival in an open life raft to 47 days as they drifted over 1500 miles along the Equator. What happened in and around that tiny life raft could have filled an adventure novel. And I won’t spoil the reader finding out how they survived one harrowing experience after another. Suffice it to say it was amazing!

Then tragedy struck—they were rescued from dying at sea by a small flotilla of Japanese ships! Then their lives became incredibly hard and harrowing almost beyond description. Having finally come under attack by America’s heavy-duty long range bombers, the Japanese were angry and brutal toward airmen, especially from bombers. For the next two years, Louie, along with other POW’s at the camps where he was interred, were given excruciating tortures. Some readers have found this section rough to read and digest.

We are not often exposed to the crueler aspects of man’s inhumanity to man. We do not often see horrors up close. Christian readers should expect depravity from human beings, especially in war time. The Bible does not teach that man is basically good and that we need only fan the flames of goodness in one another until the world is changed by our flaming goodness. The Bible also does not teach absolute depravity (i.e. the notion that everyone is as bad as they could possibly be) but it does teach what theologians call ‘total depravity’--that all aspects of each person’s being--their mind, heart, affections, desires, wishes and aspirations—are all corrupted by the Fall and man on his own cannot will or work his way into God’s favor! Louie Zamperini, as a prisoner of war in Japan, saw both the depravity of the Japanese and also himself and his fellow captors. Some of the horrors of man’s inhumanity to our fellow men are graphically described; others are left to the reader’s imagination.

Before the Japanese can kill all the POW’s at the end of the war, the swiftly moving American forces liberate his POW camp and he is freed. He returns home to astonish his parents and family who were told his plane had crashed and he was presumed dead. After being feted as a war hero, he meets and marries an Eastern debutante and settles into everyday life in California. And then the past hits like a freight train. What we now call PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) hounded Louie by day and by night. He had horrible nightmares at night and drank himself into oblivion by day. His marriage began to crumble over his losing his battle with his past and his war-time ‘demons” and alcohol.

But the man whose motto was “if you can take it, you can make it” was broken beyond his own repair. His wife, searching for answers, went by herself to Billy Graham’s first Los Angeles crusade in 1947. She found answers and begged Louie to go with her one night too. He agreed to go. But having heard enough about religion, as he abruptly got up to walk out, he had a flashback to a vision he experienced while on the raft towards the end of that fateful time at sea—he had heard what he thought were angels singing and he told God that if He would get Louie out of this, he would love and serve Him the rest of his life. Well, God had gotten Louie out of the hellish POW camp and back home but like so many others, Louie forgot his 'foxhole bargain' with God. As he stood frozen at the Graham crusade, his vibrant flashback to his vision at sea overwhelmed him and Louie cried out to God where he stood and Jesus Christ saved Louie that night.

Though Louie's horrors are real and gut wrenching to armchair readers--and in reality. What is more amazing is the power of God to transform a life and cleanse a conscience. Louie is not a mere 'survivor'--he is not the hero of the book. The God who saves sinners through Jesus Christ by the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit is greater than our sins or being sinned against.
His subsequent healing from PTSD, his freedom from alcoholism, his renewed marriage, his purposeful life, his going back to Japan to seek out and forgive his prison guards are all recounted faithfully. Readers will find themselves staying up late and squeezing out one more chapter of this well written biography of a man whose life and traumas give us hope in our less dramatic lives and lesser traumas. Though the books is 497 pages,
you will quickly read through it and you will not soon forget Louis Zamperini and God’s providence in his life. Several unbelievers I know have read it with great profit. Believers will too.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
www.thelogcollege.wordpress.com

Posted: 11:20:00 AM :: permalink :: discuss ::


ORDINARY

12/09/2014

Last week's book blog, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, showed you four books that if you would prayerfully read them digest them, discuss them and live them out would free you to live a wonderful life, freed from the chains of today's legalistic persona of "radical".

The last book of the four, ORDINARY, by Mike Horton spend the most space diagnosing the disease and the most space showing the solutions to the problem. I want to continue an examination of this most helpful and pastoral treatment of a problem in the evangelical and Reformed sub-culture--the need to be "radical, epic, revolutionary transformational, impactful, life-changing, ultimate, extreme, awesome, emergent, alternative, innovative, on the edge, pushing the envelope, the next big thing, explosive breakthrough, etc. etc. etc.

Chapter One--The New Radical

Horton picks "ordinary" as the best antidote to the Christian cultural malaise of the need to chant: "I am somebody" and I have done "something significant for God". He shows clearly that ordinary is not complacent or comfortable but faithful. He shows what it looks like in the wider culture and our Christian sub-culture and says that he has lived it too and writes for his own cure.

Chapter Two--Ordinary Isn't Mediocre

Here Horton helps us see how the believer's pursuit of excellence is not the same as perfectionism. Perfectionism warps excellence. What's more, ordinary does not mean static and dead but alive and giving our lives to God and our fellow man in Christian love.

Chapter Three--The Young and the Restless

This chapter is not an analysis of the long running daytime soap opera but a study in how the focus on youth has impacted the church and twisted its priorities.
Rather than being a church run by God according to His Word we are regulated by Madison Avenue marketing strategies which divide up the congregation into smaller marketable groups. This focus on youth causes churches and their members to live in the moment, not with a long haul mentality.

Chapter Four--The Next Big Thing

This chapter helps us to see how our culture and increasingly the church becomes bored and restless with business as usual and is itching for "the next big thing.
Not only does that make our churches and their ministries unstable, it produces unstable believers. Horton shows how even good gifts of God, like God sent revivals from heaven (not man-made revivalism) can cause our hearts to be discontent and disgruntled with the everyday, every Sunday ordinary means of grace.
Weekly church can become a commodity to analyze rather than a means of grace to savor until next Sunday's installment.

Chapter 5--Ambition: How A Vice Became a Virtue

Dr. Horton takes us through the testaments to show that ambition is viewed as a sin in God's Word. It was that way too in much of the Christian west too. However western culture, learning from the Greeks, saw ambition as a sickness that could be cured or put in the device of society for its health and happiness.

Chapter Six: Practicing What We Preach: No More Super Apostles

America, the great experiment in government of the people by the people and for the people has experimented with the church too. Most Americans view church as a democratic institution run by the people. It never occurs to them that Christ is the head of the church and runs it for His glory and His peoples good.
American populism raises up demo-gods and super heroes to lead them toward the agreed upon goals for more numbers and more offerings. Horton shows the better way in Scripture of how Christ, the King, runs His own Kingdom through biblically revealed doctrines and servant leaders.

Part Two has more of an emphasis upon building and clarifying. The first section focused on the many ills of the contemporary church and the cultural ideas that infiltrate and negatively impact the church.

Chapter Seven: Contentment

At the heart of so much that is wrong with today's churches can be spelled out in the word: discontent.
Discontent with my lot in life has me chasing the "snipe" of being a radical, pushing the envelope Christian. Though we are the wealthiest culture in history, we are also grossly discontent as a people. In past generations and cultures, people knew that choice usually meant forsaking one thing for another. Not us! We want to have it all--a career and a family, demanding jobs and time with our children, etc. Because we are in a covenant with God and not a contract with Him where we earn our part of the bargain, we are free to be content with His providence and His ordinary means of grace.

Chapter 8--We Don't Need Another Hero

Faulty, man-centered theology has left our Bible full of heroes, people whose lives become morality plays for believers to emulate. We are not called to be "world changers", we are called to be faithful to God's covenant with us, faithful to His Law and faithful to His gospel. It is up to God how He chooses to use our faithfulness for His larger purposes.

Chapter 9--God's Ecosystem

Horton helpfully defines what he means in the first sentence: Ecosystems are webs of interdependent life.
He takes us by the hand and shows us that the church is not an institution with a systematic theology but an organisms with a form of life, spiritual life. God's Kingdom is like a garden. After showing us several organic metaphors for God's church in the Bible, Horton then asks: How Does God's Garden Grow? How the ordinary means of grace, the Lord's Day and personal disciplines fit together in God's family, God's church, are very insightful.

Chapter 10--Stop Dreaming and Love Your Neighbor

In short, Horton shows how it is easier to be in love with changing world, or at least the idea of changing the world than it is to be nice to our real next door neighbor, changing dirty diapers, sitting with an elderly person and listening to their story, etc.

Chapter 11--After Ordinary--Anticipating the Revolution

The real NEXT BIG THING is the return of Christ. Faith shall be sight. In the meantime, we are to faithfully take advantage of the ordinary means of grace until they are no longer needed in the presence of our Savior and King.

I would like to see churches adopt this book to read and discuss together. i would like to see parachurch ministries grow up and read this book and re-examine their principles and priorities. I would like to see Men's Discipleship Groups, Women's Groups, teens and collegians work slowly and faithfully through this book too. It's that important!

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin

WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 01:40:49 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

12/03/2014

My favorite movie is always played on television this time of year. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, directed by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, chronicles the life story of a man who must learn the painful lessons of dying to self and giving away one’s life in service for others.

He must learn what is important and what is only chaff. In the movie, we follow George Bailey from his present reality where he is contemplating suicide on a bridge while a God-sent angel grabs his attention and shows him his true life story. George Bailey feels a failure because he never achieved any of his life dreams and ambitions—college, New York City, big buildings and big bridges, world travel, a trophy spouse, fame, recognition and money galore—meanwhile financial ruin and public scandal are staring him in his face.

But George and the viewer are enabled to see by the grace of God that one’s life is only significant in being faithful, not being spectacular or showy or anything else. George wants to do something “significant” with his life not realizing that only the Eternal Creator God knows everything and knows what is truly significant and what is merely ephemeral. From childhood George had sacrificed his comfort, his goals, his dreams, his hopes, his ambitions, his life in service to others. Others moved ahead, others got rich, others went to college, others were “successful”, others lived “significant lives” while George Bailey stayed in little Bedford Falls, gave himself to a little broken down Savings & Loan, helped when he could, served when he could, invested in others when he could and inwardly died a thousand deaths.

As our Sovereign King has given us life and entrusted a length of time to us to live to His glory, the questions we face is 'What will we do with our lives ?" and 'Were our lives “faithful” to Christ and His Word ? Being only creatures and not the Creator, we cannot know what is “significant” and what is not. Only He knows what He sovereignly plans to do with our humble lives of obedience. Christians cannot and should not aim to be “significant” but instead we should aim to be faithful and let God be concerned about what He will do with our faithfulness.

Christian authors have been showing us these truths
about the biblical perspective on our lives if we would only listen to them and what they show us from God’s Word. A collection of Francis Schaeffer’s sermons entitled NO LITTLE PEOPLE (Crossway Books) shows us that God has no “littler people” and no “little places of service”. We are either faithful people or unfaithful and clamoring for success and privilege and notoriety are carnal remnants of our sinful nature that must be put to death. John Bunyan in Bedford jail, Robert Murray M’Cheyne dying of tuberculosis in Dundee, Eric Liddell choosing not to run on Sunday in the Olympics and later dying in a Japanese POW camp in China, Francis Schaeffer burying himself and his ministry in a small village that does not even appear on most Swiss maps—none of these men sought notoriety and fame. They sought to be faithful and God determined according to His will and eternal plan what significance their faithfulness would later have .

A couple of years ago, Matt Redmund wrote a tiny blockbuster—THE GOD OF THE MUNDANE (Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People); Kalos Press. I have trumpeted the book in this blog at least twice and given away many copies. Whole churches have read it and profited from it and enjoyed it together. Most who have read it have read it at least twice—its that good and that important. In a day when Christians are bombarded to be radical, take risks, act 'crazy like God', and altogether be “extreme Christians”, Redmond takes us to the Scriptures to show us that God’s consistent call in the Bible is to be none of these things but instead to be faithful Christians in our homes and marriages, our parenting, our work lives and our local citizenship. All rather humdrum and mundane it would seem. And that’s the point. Believers are not called to “push the envelope” or be awesomely creative and innovative. We are called to be faithful.

Josh Kelley has picked up the same themes and aimed at the same target—the idea that Christians have to be extraordinary and exceptional and radical and extreme for their lives to count. In his book, RADICALLY NORMAL (You Don’t Have to Live Crazy to Follow Jesus) from Harvest House Josh fleshes out what “normal” is and how it pleases God. This life is preparatory for the next and faithfulness is the criteria by which Christians will be judged. Believers do not have to sell their homes and move to rough, tough neighborhoods or Outer Slobovia to be real Christians. Being a faithful Christian man or woman, husband and father or wife and mother, neighbor and friend are not small things.
How much different our churches would look if everyone was simply faithful at these primary callings on our lives.

The newest title to address the false siren call for Christians to be radical is Mike Horton’S ORDINARY (Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World); Zondervan. I believe Horton shows conclusively that the New Testament calls Christians to be faithful,
not flashy, settled, not restless and to bloom where they are planted—not take the world by storm. There are calls for ministers of the gospel to take the gospel to the ends of the earth but ordinary laymen are called to live out the message of Christ and the gospel in their local communities as faithful men and women, husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, employers and employees. As another blogger has put it, just studying the book of Ephesians showed that God's goal for believers is faithfulness in our callings, not radical in our desperate desires to find “significance”.

Here are Horton’s chapter titles:

RADICAL AND RESTLESSS
1. The New Radical
2. Ordinary isn’t Mediocre
3. The Young and the Restless
4. The Next Big Thing
5. Ambition: How a Vice Became a Virtue
6. Practicing What We Preach: No More Super-apostles

ORDINARY AND CONTENT
7. Contentment
8. We Don’t Need Another Hero
9. God’s Ecosystem
10. Stop Dreaming and Love Your Neighbor
11. After Ordinary: Anticipating the Revolution

I believe every American Christian should read Dr. Horton’s book for our bad practices are based upon bad theology and Horton shows us how we have gotten off the biblical path into a miry bog of self-fulfillment and self-aggrandizement.

I would like to challenge you to buy and read at least two of these excellent books and find someone to discuss them with. This 'radical' mind-set has become endemic to the Christian sub-culture and needs more than just a Christian tract and a prayer to excise it from our lives. When lived God's way, the Christian life truly is "a wonderful life".

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin

Find more than 700 devotionals, downloads, book reviews and a new ebook at my personal website, WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 04:06:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


A NEW STUDY BIBLE FOR A CHRISTMAS GIFT

11/25/2014

Of the making of new "study Bibles" there seems to be no end. Some are the work of a single individual who has a radio or TV ministry and some folks have become habituated to see and hear things from "the great man's perspective". Very few if any single individuals are capable of writing a competent "study Bible" or commentary on the whole Bible. So few have done it well that they stand out in church history (John Calvin in the 16th century, Matthew Henry and Matthew Poole in the 17th century, and Thomas Scott
in the 18th century).

The better study Bibles with their running comments on Scripture and theological insertions have been the Geneva Study Bible of the 17th century, (the NEW GENEVA STUDY BIBLE of the 1980's done by R. C. Sproul and Reformed scholars connected to Ligonier Ministries, the ESV STUDY BIBLE of the 2000's by scholars connected to Crossway Books and the Gospel Coalition; the ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE done by scholars connected to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the HOLMAN KJV STUDY BIBLE produced by mostly Baptist scholars and scholars connected to Broadman & Holman Publishing, the publishing arm of
the Southern Baptist Convention). Whew! That's a lot of study Bibles!! Is there room for another study Bible? Do we need another study Bible?

I believe we do and the brand new REFORMATION HERITAGE KJV STUDY BIBLE in particular deserves to be in print for several reasons.

First, the historic and classic KJV of the Bible is not going away any time soon. Many believers still use and study their KJV Bibles. A good study Bible geared to the KJV is a good thing.

Second, it is covenantal in its organizing view of Scripture. Some study Bibles are dispensational in how they view the structure of Scripture (SCOFIELD STUDY BIBLE; NEW SCOFIELD STUDY BIBLE, RYRIE STUDY BIBLE, MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE), other study Bibles are a mixed bag of covenantal and dispensational contributors (HOLMAN KJV STUDY BIBLE). Other study Bibles are a blend of loosely Reformed and Calvinistic contributors. Joel Beeke, pastor, author and seminary president at PURITAN REFORMED SEMINARY has assembled a team of scholarly contributors who are consistently covenantal in their understanding of how Scripture fits together. Besides Professor Beeke, contributors include Michael Barrett, Gerald Bilkes, Ian Goligher, John Greer, Andy McIntosh, Maurice Roberts, Malcolm Watts and others.

3rd, each portion of Scripture is commented upon both to understand the text AND for THOUGHTS FOR PERSONAL/FAMILY WORSHIP. They are a boon to the Christian who daily reasons his/her Bible to commune with their Savior. What a treasure trove of good things for the soul awaits the faithful user of this study Bible!

4th--scattered throughout the Bible are systematic theology/devotional notes from various Puritan worthies (Matthew Henry, Richard Sibbes, Thomas Watson,
Christopher Love, et al. as well as the scholars whose names are listed above. The Puritans used the KJV and this study Bible reflects that background. The basic outline of systematic theology outlined in study articles is superb--clear, warm, biblical and experiential.

5th--Dr. Sinclair Ferguson has a 2000 year overview of Christian history which has been edited and adapted, century by century, to a section at the end of the volume to give the reader the 'big picture' of what God has been doing since the 1st century and the times of Christ upon the earth and His disciples ministries. I have used Dr. Ferguson's overview before and found it quite helpful and succinct.

For those who use the KJV as their regular Bible for reading and study, this is the study Bible for you. For others like myself who use another good translation of the Bible (ESV, NKJV, NASB, etc) I will use this regularly in my studies because the notes and helps are so good.
I regularly use more than one translation and study Bible besides the Greek (sorry but true confessions, my Hebrew is gone) when studying my Bible. I plan to use this REFORMATION HERITAGE STUDY BIBLE myself regularly.

For yourself or for another person who uses the KJV, this is a great gift in whatever price range or style you choose.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 11:40:00 AM :: permalink :: discuss ::


BEFORE YOU BUY CHRISTMAS GIFT BOOKS, BUY A CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONAL BOOK FOR THE ADVENT SEASON

11/18/2014

As one whose life has been transformed by the grace of God by reading good books, I give good books as gifts--Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, for wedding showers, baby showers, etc. etc. etc. I plan to give good books again this Christmas too, attuned to the needs of the various individuals on my list.

But one books stands out as a close to ideal Christmas advent gift to use year after year in preparing our hearts for the advent of our Lord. This is John Piper's new little paperback, THE DAWNING OF INDESTRUCTIBLE JOY (Daily Readings for Advent); Crossway. The advantages of this book are many: it is short (2 short pages per day), it is very readable, it is motivational, it is clear, it is Christ-centered (as it should be), it is based upon a Scripture text for each day. And it is a joy to read.

In a day when materialism and the cluttered lives and frantic pace of the cultural bacchanalia tends to ruin many of your personal experiences of Christmas, this book is different. It will actually draw your mind and emotions back to the 'reason for the season'. They originally were parts of Christmas Sermons preached by Dr. Piper over his many years at Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis, MN.

Here are the titles & Scriptures for the daily reasons:

INTRODUCTION--Praying for Fullness This Christmas (John 1:14-16)

1st--The Search and Save Mission--Luke 19:10

2nd--Prepare Your Heart for Christ--John 5:44

3rd--Draw Near to the Savior--Hebrews 13-20-21

4th--What Advent Is All About--Mark 10:45

5th--Why Christmas Happened--1st John 3:5. 8

6th--God's Passion for God at Christmas--John 12:27-28

7th--He Comes to Bless Us--Acts 3:22-26

8th--God Can Be Trusted--Acts 3:22-26

And so forth until Christmas Day! I plan to use it for my wife and myself this Advent season. Why not join me?!

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 01:46:52 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::