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THE NUTS & BOLTS OF CHRISTIAN PROBLEM SOLVING FOR CHRISTIANS WHO WANT TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS WITH GOD

06/03/2013

The revolution that came about in Christian counseling the past 35 years had to do with the sufficiency of the Bible to deal with mankind's problems. Prior to the 1980's, many pastors referred counseling cases to local secular psychologists and psychiatrists. Pastors were thought to be ill-equipped to handle the problems of life, armed only with the Bible and the Holy Spirit. The Bible was not seen as a sufficient tool of wisdom to help people out of their sinful and hurtful behavior patterns into God-glorifying, healthy living. The Holy Spirit was not seen as a sufficient power source for life change.

By the grace of God, a more biblical outlook on biblical problem solving has emerged and gained the confidence and blessing of the churches. Likening what Jay Adams did to psychology to what Karl Barth did to liberal theology, James Packer said that Adams (through his book, COMPETENT TO COUNSEL) was a bomb on the playground of the psychologists. One cannot study the history of Christian counseling without knowing the critical role that Jay Adams played in the turn around.

But one name that is often overlooked is Wayne Mack. A Wheaton College graduate who went on to seminary studies at Philadelphia Theological Seminary, Wayne Mack had done a wonderful service for Christ's churches and pastors in building upon the work of Jay Adams and making it even more accessible to pastors and laymen.

Wayne is nothing if not practical. He knows his God and his Bible and he brings both to bear in his Christian counseling workbooks and manuals. He gets the reader in to the Scriptures. If I am to change my life, I want to do it because God says I should have it changed and by knowing the resources I have in Christ to actually change.

Wayne's many books have put the truth of the Bible and its eternal wisdom down where God's sheep can profit from the truth. I commend the following:

Anger & Stress Management God's Way--just what it says. Angry Christians and their spouse should both read this. 15.95 / 11.50

Christian Growth and Discipleship Manual (Homework Manual For Biblical Living) 19.95 / 13.99

Counseling (How to Counsel Biblically) by MacArthur, John & Mack, Wayne--John MacArthur gets top billing here but Wayne did the "heavy lifting". Dr. MacArthur is a champion for the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Dr. Mack shows how to use it as your most valuable tool in helping others.

Down,But Not Out 12.99 / 8.99--You may have just had a bomb dropped on your head but God is still on His throne. Here's how to see yourself, your problem and how to proceed.

Fight To The Death 10.99 / 7.99 You may have never heard of the Puritan giant, John Owen, but here Dr. Mack shares the same biblical material on hot to put your remaining sins to death that John Owen taught

Homework Manual For Biblical Living Vol. 1; Personal And Interpersonal Problems; 10.99 / 7.99--just what it says about dealing with yourself and those who relate to you.

Homework Manual For Biblical Living; Vol. 2, Family And Marital Problems; just what it says too!

Humility (The Forgotten Virtue) 10.99 / 7.99--a great place to begin your study in humility and meekness.

In-Laws: Married with Parents (Resources for Biblical Living) 4.99 / 3.50--a small book on a big problem. When you get married, you marry into a family. How to be married to your spouse within the larger context of his or her family.

It's Not Fair! 11.99 / 8.35--hard things happen to God's people. Sinful self-pity has us whining "It's not fair!". Dr. Mack shows you a better way to deal with hard times and a gracious God.

Life In The Father's House by Wayne Mack & David Swavely 12.99 / 8.99--a great primer I highly recommend on how believer's are to behave in Christ's church.

Maximum Impact; Living and Loving for God's Glory
15.99 / 11.50

Out of the Blues 10.95 / 7.99--what to read when you are in the dumps and are tempted to go into a depression.

Reaching The Ear of God 13.99 / 9.99--a great book on prayer. Very practical.

Strengthening Your Marriage 11.99 / 7.99--how to deal with marital conflict and communication as Christians.

Sweethearts For A Lifetime; 14.99 / 10.99 Wayne and Carol have been married for a half-century. How can any two people live together in love, harmony and joy all those years? Read this book and find out.


To Be Or Not To Be A Church Member 8.99 / 6.25--
shows what the Bible says about becoming a church member and not a church bee, flitting from church to church.

True Success and How To Attain It 6.99 / 4.99--Do you know what "true success" is and could you teach it to your children or grandchildren?

The Twin Pillars of the Christian Life; 14.99 / 10.99
a workbook showing how personal prayer and Bible reading is essential to become a growing Christian.

YOUR MARRIAGE GOD'S WAY--God invented marriage and planned for what it was to do in His eternal plan. Mankind has shaved the truth off until there is nothing left of God's original design. This workbook is how to build your marriage and life on God and His Word and not just fit God into your spare time!

I cannot recommend Wayne Mack's material highly enough. Try them; you'll like them.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
You can visit me also at my ministry website
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 03:31:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


FATHER'S DAY GIFTS

05/27/2013

Father's Day provides an opportunity to give good spiritual gifts to the fathers in our lives. Let me recommend the following gifts to give to fathers who fit in various categories.

YET UNCONVERTED FATHERS WHO ARE READERS:

Laura Hillenbrand, UNBROKEN (A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption); Random House--New York Times Bestseller about a young tough guy from inner city Los Angeles who learns that running track is better than running from the cops. Goes into World War II as an Airmen in the Air Force, his plane crash lands in the Pacific and he and seven others are in a four man raft for seven weeks! Then the Japanese capture them and things get REALLY BAD. How does he make it? How does he struggle with with is now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the War? Have your loved one read this page turning true story.

CONVERTED FATHERS WHO ARE READERS:

THOSE FATHERS UNDER 30...

Gerard Chrispin, THE BIBLE PANORAMA; Day One Publications--a great gift for a lifetime of Bible reading. It takes the reader through every book and chapter of the Bible and helps you get good for your soul. What's more it answers questions about the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible along the way. I use my copy
as I read through the Bible.

Don Whitney, SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; NavPress--basic training for the maturing Christian. A best seller for a very good reason, it is very good.

THOSE FATHERS FROM 30 TO 50...

Sinclair Ferguson and Alistair Begg, NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES; Crossway--noted pastor-theologians give us the names of Christ and show how they explain our Lord and all of His works. Helps the believer to follow the Bible's injunction to fix your eyes upon Jesus and who He is. A great read.

THOSE FATHERS OVER 50...

James Packer, WEAKNESS IS THE WAY (Life With Christ as our Strength); Crossway--noted theologian
J. I. Packer (author of KNOWING GOD and CONCISE THEOLOGY) writes out of his life of knowing God, the Scriptures and personal weakness. As an 8 year old
boy he was hit by a bread truck and almost died. A permanent dent in his head and a metal plate restricted active pursuits of most boys his age. The next Christmas he got not a bicycle as he desired but a typewriter! Not what every 8 year old wants but providentially a gift that would serve a lifetime. Now Dr. Packer in in his mid-80's and struggling to get up the stairs. Is God who promises "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" still meeting His promises? I plan to buy and give away several.

May the Lord give you grace to honor the fathers in your life this Father's Day. No father is perfect and worthy of being the earthly representatives of God the Father to our children, but we can honor them for the office that God Himself has given them.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin

Visit me at my website too,

WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 10:03:00 AM :: permalink :: discuss ::


DEVOTIONAL BOOKS THAT ARE MORE THAN DEVOTIONAL BOOKS

05/20/2013

I for one does not read very many "devotional"? books. Why? Well, they seem so light and frothy for one.
I like my spiritual help to be more substantial than "MY DAILY BREADCRUMBS" or "LITTLE THOUGHTS FOR LITTLE CHRISTIANS" or "SERMONETTES FOR CHRISTIANETTES". Are their titles which are good for daily reading and which are more substantial in their import? I believe there are. Here are some of my favorites.

Maurice Roberts, THE THOUGHT OF GOD

Maurice Roberts, THE CHRISTIAN'S HIGH-CALLING

Maurice Roberts, GREAT GOD OF WONDERS
All of these books are from Banner of Truth where Pastor Roberts served as Editor of the magazine for 15 years. These are the collection of his devotionals for most of these years and they are gems! Robust theology with very practical application make them among my favorites. I have read them and reread them for years. It doesn't hurt that Pastor Roberts is
a great word-smith either! (I also used them as devotionals for Elders Meetings so that each of the participants, pastor included, might be under the Word and not perennially in the place of giving the devotions.)

James Packer, CONCISE THEOLOGY; Tyndale
Senior evangelical and Reformed theologian and wordsmith James Packer gives us a concise and compressed inventory of 100 aspects of the Bible's teaching on what God is telling us in the Bible. I refer to it over and over again. (You might recognize these short but profound capsules as the "Theology" boxes in the Reformation Study Bible.)

Dale Ralph Davis, JOSHUA
"  " " , JUDGES
" " " , 1ST SAMUEL
" " " , 2ND SAMUEL
" " " , 1ST KINGS
" " " , 2ND KINGS
" " " , THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS IN
THE MUCK OF LIFE (Psalms 1-12)
All of these are from Christian Focus and they are each gems in their own right. It might seem that reading straight through the historical books is a tall order for a daily devotional. Perhaps it is the way my mind works, but I so much appreciate going through a book of the Bible with a learned and passionate advocate like pastor and professor Dale Ralph Davis.
(I have read through the "historical books" of the Old Testament about a half dozen times with Dr. Davis'
help and gotten great good for my soul in doing so. I believe you will too!) His commentary on the first twelve Psalms is equally helpful.


Robert Peterson, SALVATION ACCOMPLISHED BY
THE SON; Crossway--one of the most helpful books on the work of our Savior to come along in years. It would make a great book for personal devotions. It is substantial but not written for academics alone. Peterson writes in a pastoral manner that will warm your heart while filling your head with the best theology. Highly recommended. Here are the divisions and chapter titles:
PART ONE: Introduction to Jesus' Saving Events
1. Christ's Incarnation
2. Christ's Sinless Life
3. Christ's Death
4. Christ's Resurrection
5. Christ's Ascension
6. Christ's Session
7. Christ's Pentecost
8. Christ's Intercession
9. Christ's Second Coming

PART TWO: Introduction to the Pictures of Jesus'
Saving Events
1. Christ our Reconciler
2. Christ our Redeemer
3. Christ our Legal Substitute
4. Christ our Victor
5. Christ our Second Adam
6. Christ our Sacrifice
*APPENDIX--The Extent of the Atonement

Don't miss this book and its study of our Savior!

Jerry Bridges, THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE; NavPress
I have said before in print that if I could make it mandatory, I would make each office holder in local churches master this book. It is the best theology of the gospel geared for reading and thinking laymen
and pastors who are not afraid to read books that are not "technical" but practical. I believe Jerry Bridges to be the best popularizer of Reformed theology in America!

R. C. Sproul, THE WORK OF CHRIST (What the Events of Jesus' Life Mean for You); David C. Cook--twelve events in the earthly life of our Lord that have profound ramifications for believers--Incarnation, Infancy Hymns, Jesus in the Temple, Baptism, Temptation, Transfiguration, Triumphal Entry, Last Supper, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, Return.
Typical Sproul--great theology with an infectious warmth!

You should have years of edifying personal or family devotions if you diligently used these great, great
tools.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin



Posted: 10:47:20 AM :: permalink :: discuss ::


UN-SPECTACULAR SINS THAT CRIPPLE SAINTS

05/14/2013

John Piper recently wrote a book on spectacular sins. I was tempted to think he might be writing about me. But he was not. There have been spectacular sins in history and they have impacted our planet in terrible ways.

But sins do not have to have the racy label of "spectacular" to cripple God's people and ruin their testimonies. Murder, rape, robbery, genocide, abortion, infanticide, terrorism and such sins garner much attention. And they should. They are spectacular sins.

But other sins are so corrosive that they can side-line a believer from being active in the fray and ruin his or her reputation with unbelievers. I am thinking of the sin of worry (and its fellow sins of fear, anxiety and the like). When a person is consumed with fear or worry, everything else seems to get crowded out. Believers controlled by worry and fear are not filled with the Holy Spirit and do not manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The glory of Christ is diminished in that person's life. And as a believer, they would not want it to be so.

Praise the Lord that their are great resources to help believers persevere through worry, anxiety and fear and learn to trust Christ and not to be crippled by these states of mind. The following resources are excellent and will truly help those who put this material into practice.

INTRODUCTORY MATERIAL:

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, LET NOT YOUR HEART BE
TROUBLED; Crossway--classic teaching from
John's gospel on worry and fear.

Elyse Fitspatrick, OVERCOMING FEAR, WORRY AND
ANXIETY; Harvest House

John MacArthur, ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING; David C.
Cook Publishers (originally titled, ANXIETY
ATTACKED)

MORE SUBSTANTIAL TREATMENTS OF THIS

Ed Welch, RUNNING SCARED (Fear, Worry and the
God of Rest); New Growth Press and CCEF--a great
help for those who struggle with these sins.

Ed Welch, WHEN I AM AFRAID (A Step by Step Guide
Away from Fear and Anxiety); New Growth Press--
a very helpful workbook

Stuart Scott, ANGER, ANXIETY AND FEAR; Focus
Christian Publishing

Robert Kellerman, ANXIETY (Anatomy and Cure);
Presbyterian & Reformed

Mark Decland, HELPFUL TRUTHS IN PAST PLACES
(The Puritan Practice of Biblical Counseling);
Christian Focus Publications--shows how various
Puritan pastoral counselors dealt with certain sins
we still face today.

Everything someone needs and more to finally deal with the sin of worry and its horrible control.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin

Posted: 03:29:31 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


GIFTS FOR HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE GRADUATES

05/07/2013

High School and College graduation is just around the corner.

A GIFT BIBLE FOR THE GRADUATE, GUY OR GIRL:

ESV STUDENT STUDY BIBLE; Crossway--just about everything a student needs to help them stay in the Word with good understanding.

ESV GLOBAL STUDY BIBLE; Crossway--good for
exchange students from other countries whose home country does not have exactly the same cultural sins to battle so there are 17 new articles added to this that are different from the ESV STUDY BIBLE.

**NOTE: Bible can be imprinted with the student's
name.


FOR GRADUATING YOUNG WOMEN:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, LIES YOUNG WOMEN BELIEVE;
Moody Press--shows the cultural baggages young
women are like to pick up and how to throw them
away.

Michelle Graham, WANTING TO BE HER (Body Image
Secrets Victoria Won't Tell You); IVP--so many
young women are dissatisfied with how they look.
This helps young women see what is being told
them and how to resist the huge cultural manip-
ulation! How to have a biblical and healthy
self-perception of how you look.

Mary Kassian, GIRLS GONE WISE (in a world gone
wild); Moody Press--we live in a world where
girls are no longer the keepers of morality. Girls
who graduate will be tempted to walk on the
wild side. This book is great in that it shows you
things that VOGUE, BEAUTY and VANITY FAIR
won't tell you.

FOR GRADUATING YOUNG MEN:

Tim Keller, THE REASON FOR GOD; E. P. Dutton--best
selling book showing why one does not have to
throw one's mind away or commit intellectual
suicide to be a Christian. Answers many of the
question unbelievers today are asking.

C. S. Lewis, MERE CHRISTIANITY; Harper One--classic
book defending Christianity and answering
classic questions about the faith. Incredibly well
written and has been used for 50 years to help
thinking unbelievers.

I recommend a book and a Bible for each graduate.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin

P. S. Also visit me at my website...
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 01:34:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


GOD'S GOOD GIFT TO EARNEST CHRISTIANS

04/29/2013

Ichabod Spencer, A PASTOR'S SKETCHES; Solid
Ground Christian Books; 2 volumes in 1; available
in paperback and hardback volumes.

Ichabod Spencer is not a household name among Christians. (Even the first name of "Ichabod" ushers up memories of Washington Irving's short story, THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN and the hapless school teacher, Ichabod Crane.) But it would be a huge mistake to ignore this book or leave it lying around the house unread. For it is a great gift to pastors, parents, student ministries, military ministries and those Christians who seek to be faithful in their witness to the lost and dying all around us.

A brief history of Ichabod Spencer would note his conversion and education as a young man in upstate New York, his later call to the ministry, his anointed pastorate (over 250 conversion in four years of ministry) in Northampton, Massachusetts (the very church Jonathan Edwards once pastored). He wore himself out in Northampton and after some rest would pastor in Brooklyn, New York. His faithful and fruitful ministry there would earn him the nickname THE BUNYAN OF BROOKLYN (the same title of his biography also published by Solid Ground Christian Books). His funeral sermon was preached by the noted Presbyterian pastor, Gardiner Spring.

What is so great about Spencer's A PASTOR'S SKETCHES? One of his obvious gifts was speaking to people about Christ and their need of salvation. These combined volumes contain 77 sketches of conversation he had with different people from all walks of life and spiritual conditions and how he was able to take the conversation to Christ and the gospel. Not every person he spoke with in these sketches became a believer. But many did. And he shows time after time how to turn the conversation to Christ and how the gospel has the answer to mankind's problems.

This book, in the hardback edition, contains two most helpful indices: one with a brief description of each sketch and another a comprehensive Subject Index. What's more there are sixteen "Short Sermons" in the back which are one page tracts really--the gospel in short space.

Who should have and carefully use this volume ? (1) Pastors who want to speak more effectively about
Christ and the gospel in evangelistic and
counseling situations.
(2) Parents, especially of teenagers, who want to have
a great tool for family devotions that is Christ
centered, gospel drives and speaking to the
questions of life that teenagers invariably have. It
would be a great family devotion tool with
teenagers!
(3) Those involved in campus ministries and military
chaplaincies. Time after time Spencer interacts
with people whose problems, predicaments and
questions are timeless.
(4) Church and Bible College and Seminary libraries
should have two copies of this book because it
will get read by those wishing to speak for Christ.

This book has been in reprint since 2001 and has rave recommendations from the likes of pastor/evangelist Peter Jeffery, Professor Tom Nettles, apologist James White, pastor/theologian Joel Beeke, pastor Geoff Thomas, missionary David Vaughn, African pastor Conrad Mbewe and others.

Thank you Solid Ground for rescuing this gem from the dustbin of the past and making it an even more valuable tool for believers today.

May God give us grace to prayerfully use this great, great tool!

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
(Follow me at my ministry website, THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM)

Posted: 11:57:00 AM :: permalink :: discuss ::


HOW CAN A LOVING GOD.....?

04/19/2013

The tragedy of the maimed and killed at the Boston Marathon this week is only the latest heartache that enemies of the gospel and even sincere Christians are caused to ask: "How can a loving God...?"

In Texas also this week, a fertilizer factory exploded killing many and injuring many more, spreading damage for miles around. Factory workers on scene when it happened and first responders who came to rescue them were all killed. "How can a loving God...?"

In the past decade we have seen the horrors of
9-11, Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in southeast Asia, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri--the list could go on and on. "How could a loving God...?

Complaints and cavils of unbelievers are used to disrespect God whenever they can. In the 18th century, it was the great Lisbon earthquake that killed tens of thousands that unbelievers through in the faces of Christians. In the 20th century, the slaughter of the Armenians by the Turks, the pogroms of Josef Stalin against the Ukrainians, the genocide of the Jews in WWII, the tribal war among Africans in Nigeria and Biafra, the systematic killing of the Balkans warring factions, the tribal wars in Rwanda--on and on and on it goes. "How can a loving God...?"

Does God's Word have any answers? Does God's Word explain His ways with the world? It does--for those who have ears to listen. Some of the authors below have taken the time to listen to God's questioners and more importantly, listened to God's Word. Here are their answers.

R. C. Sproul, THE HOLINESS OF GOD; Tyndale--one
chapter in particular speaks to the death of
"innocents" and "where was God?". When
reasoning through a problem, we should always
start with the fountainhead of truth--God Himself.
Humbling to both believers and unbelievers.

R. C. Sproul, THE INVISIBLE HAND; P & R--it has long
been used as an illustration--"Providence is the
invisible hand of God in the glove of human
circumstances." In his careful and biblical way,
Dr. Sproul deals with all aspects of the providence
of God.

John Piper, SPECTACULAR SINS; Crossway--dictators
and evil governments have taken countless lives
in the 20th century. Add to that the millions upon
millions of unborn children who were murdered
through abortion. Pastor Piper explains some of
what God is up to in these spectacular sins.

Melvin Tinker, WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO
GOOD PEOPLE?; Christian Focus--the author's
name is not a "cool" name as names go, but his
book is good. He is a leading evangelical and
Reformed pastor in the United Kingdom.

Randy Alcorn, IF GOD IS GOOD...?; Waterbrook
A fine general study of the ways of God in our
times of pain and suffering. A workbook is also
available.

Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (even when life hurts);
NavPress--written while his wife was dying of
cancer. Jerry Bridges does the careful spade work
to show the willing reader the ways of God in the
horrible times His people go through. Being a good
member of the Navigators, Bridges then has the
reader work through what it means that God is
sovereign, such that nothing and no one thwarts
Him; God is holy such that no unholy or evil
motive springs from His heart; God is infinitely
wise and no information eludes Him, He does all
things well; God is loving and seeks the best for
His people. A most important book for every
Christian to work through--a real "sanity saver"!

Jerry Bridges, IS GOD REALLY IN CONTROL?; NavPress
Builds upon the first books but seeks to answer
the additional question: "Well, what about the
really big and awful tragedies?" A good companion
piece to the above mentioned book.

Brian Morley, GOD IN THE SHADOWS; Christian Focus
Publications--most helpful book showing the ways
of God in everything from genocide to birth defects.

Ron Dunn, WHEN HEAVEN IS SILENT; CLC--you come home from a weekend of preaching with your wife at your side. An elders meets you at the airport. Your son has just committed suicide in his bedroom. You can't go home for a while. Ron Dunn, noted Bible teacher and conference speaker, shares his deep pain and questioning of God in this awful providence. And the lessons he learned and did not learn are brought to light with vivid clarity.

John Piper, ed; SUFFERING AND THE SOVEREIGNTY
OF GOD; Crossway--a collection of brilliant essays
on various aspects of suffering

Ravi Zacharias, THE DIVINE WEAVER; Zondervan
A man who was once driven to the brink of suicide,
Professor Zacharias shows how the various strands
of our lives, like strands of threat on the under-
neath side of a tapestry seem like a jumbled web,
only to recognized as very different when seen
from the God's perspective--He is weaving a grand
tapestry of our lives of His making.

John Feinberg, THE MANY FACES OF EVIL; Crossway
one of the most important books every written on
the existence and problem of evil and where is God
in all this filth.

These books should get you started and can be used by thinking non-Christians who are willing to go beyond
hurling insults at God and who really want to find out the answers to the evils afoot in the world.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin
Also visit me at my website:
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM


Posted: 04:10:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


EDITH SCHAEFFER HAD A HUSBAND

04/15/2013

Last week we looked at Edith Schaeffer and her contributions to the ministry to students and intellectuals at L'Abri in Switzerland alongside her husband, Francis. Today I thought it would be wise to take a look at Edith's more famous husband and his contributions to evangelical and Reformed Christianity in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

I can clearly remember reading Francis Schaeffer for the first time in my mid-twenties. I was lying on the sofa in our living room in Indianapolis. Fall was almost gone and winter was soon to be upon us. And my brain hurt. Why? Because since college I had not read much Christian literature except devotional fluff. I had read deeper books for courses I took each summer in condensed Bible college courses. But as each summer was behind me, I read the popular books recommended by my peers. (How I wish that I had read C. S. Lewis' classic essay, ON THE READING OF OLD BOOKS (available on-line). [But that's another BLOG POST.]

Reading Francis Schaeffer gave me a literal headache. He was using words I was unfamiliar with and which stretched my brain. Not only did he use important words like "epistemology" (how do we know what we know) but he also used words and phrases he made up "the mannishness of man" and "true truth".

But a funny thing happened that Fall. My brain must have grown because once I got over learning a few new words and phrases, my mind and way of looking at the world was greatly expanded...and my headache disappeared. Francis Schaeffer was working his magic on me.

What was Francis Schaeffer's magic that he helped spread to evangelical and Reformed Christians? Several things come to mind.

FIRST--he taught a generation to think in terms of the big picture of "world-view". The way of looking at reality which is embedded in each culture and each person of that culture (barring a titanic shift to another way of looking at reality that Thomas Kuhn was to call a "paradigm shift"). Schaeffer made us realize that before we could minister within a culture, we would need to understand something of how that culture thinks and views reality. We would not dream of moving to "Outer Slobovia" without learning the language of the "Slobs", neither should we seek to speak or live Christ into any culture without learning something of the way the people in that culture view reality. Schaeffer gave a whirlwind tour of European and American intellectual history since the Greeks and Romans right up to today. While he was wrong on some details, the big picture was clear enough and many of us were helped to understand, live in and minister in our culture much more effectively.

SECOND--he taught clearly that Christians are whole people, not just "witnessing machines" or ministry cyphers. Understanding and enjoying art and music, treating each other with love and dignity, embracing Christian marriage, etc. One African-American student visiting L'Abri in Switzerland was impacted by Schaeffer's response to his life story of discrimination and racial injustice. Schaeffer broke down and wept for the young man. He later said that no white person had every wept in sympathy for him and his plight. Many a Christian can testify that Schaeffer re-introduced their love of beauty and God's gift of art.

THIRD--Schaeffer was an thinking evangelist. He had listened to thousands of young college students share their confusion and complaints about 20th century life. Schaeffer spoke in the language the students understood and showed them how the gospel of Jesus Christ speaks to all of life, beginning with justification.
I know I was able to minister to so many more people than I might have been because I had learned to understand much of my culture and the context from which people came with their questions.

FOURTH--Schaeffer helped me in the pursuit of holiness because he helped me to see the cultural baggage we all have and why it was unbiblical and why it was destructive. Living in this fallen world, each culture has its own toxicity and we each breathe a poisoned air. Learning to filter out that poisoned air and learning to breathe the fresh, clean air of the Word of God saved me from many a pitfall.

HOW CAN YOU BEGIN TO LEARN FROM SCHAEFFER ?

Edith Schaeffer, L'ABRI; Baker--read something of the
backstory of their lives together and how came to
be the people they were.

SCHAEFFER BIOGRAPHIES A BIT MORE OBJECTIVE

Colin Duriez, FRANCIS SCHAEFFER: AN AUTHENTIC
LIFE; Crossway--one of my favorites. Schaeffer
practiced what he preached and Duriez spent
time as a student at L'Abri and later interviewed
many who knew Schaeffer well.

Bruce Little, FRANCIS SCHEAFFER: A MIND AND
HEART FOR GOD; P & R--shows Scheaffer was
a whole man seeking to minister to whole
persons in a culture under the judgement of God

William Edgar, SCHAEFFER ON THE CHRISTIAN
LIFE: COUNTER-CULTURAL SPIRITUALITY;
Crossway--shows how Schaeffer taught more
than cultural Christianity but a Christian faith
controlled by the Scripture and going against
the grain of so much "cultural Christianity".

Bryan Follis, TRUTH WITH LOVE (The Apologetics
of Francis Schaeffer); Crossway--how does a
person speak Christianly to our culture and be
understood? Schaeffer shows the way.

Francis Schaeffer, HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?;
Baker--DVD and book and audiobook--Schaeffer
put his thoughts into visual form and sought to
explain Western Civilization and Christianity and
the problems we face today by looking at how we
got here. I would suggest a church or campus
ministry purchase the DVD series and show it
while having folks read the book too. Books and
cinema are two different media which are very
different but which can supplement one another.
NOTE; What Western Civilization was struggling
with 40 years ago is now totally endemic to our
culture. No more do we have seminars entitled
"Does absolute truth exist?". It is axiomatically
assumed without another thought. "Everything
is relative" is now called "post-mdoern" and the
background to almost every book, movie, magazine
article, novel, Ph.D. dissertation, pop song, etc.

Francis Schaeffer, ESCAPE FROM REASON; IVP--short
introduction to what has been happening in
Western Civilization the past 100 years and how
it impacts art, music, cinema, popular culture, etc.

Francis Schaeffer, DEATH IN THE CITY; IVP--taking
his cue from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah,
Schaeffer shows that when we reject God we do
not choose a more vibrant life on our own but
certain death, whether individually or as a culture.
He shows how all the various aspects of a
civilization are destroyed when men rejects God.
Why is the 'dust of death' hanging over our nation?

Francis Schaeffer, THE GOD WHO IS THERE; IVP--
For thirty some years it has stood the test of time
showing how our culture has left God in all aspects
of civilization and how only biblical Christianity can
cure the problems we have made for ourselves.

Francis Scheaffer, HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT
SILENT; Christian audio--shows how we know God
and the basis for a true way of knowing reality--
epistemology.

Francis Schaeffer, FRANCIS SCHAEFFER TRILOGY;
Crossway--contains all the IVP works above in one
volume.

Francis Schaeffer, THE WORKS OF FRANCIS
SCHAEFFER; (5 volumes); Crossway--contains all
of his main writings. Great buy for a church library.

Francis Schaeffer, THE MARK OF THE CHRISTIAN;
book or audio CD--for all of us whose brains are
more exercised than our hearts, Schaeffer reminds
us that truth without love can be very ugly. Calls
evangelicals and Reformed folks to work at love as
much as they do at gaining the truth.

Francis Schaeffer, NO LITTLE PEOPLE; Crossway--
outstanding sermons addressing perennial
problems in Christian lives and churches. The first
sermon is worth the price of the whole book!

Francis Schaeffer, POLLUTION AND THE DEATH OF
MAN; Crossway
Francis Schaeffer, ART AND THE BIBLE; IVP books and
Christian audio for the audio CD.
The Bible speaks to the problems of the ecology and
creativity. Mankind is created in the image of God
and so is creatire. Art is just one of the many
manifestations of human beings created in God's
image. What shall we do with this gift of art?

Francis Schaeffer, TRUE SPIRITUALITY; Crossway--the
first book he wrote but one of the last he published,
Schaeffer confessed his own struggles with
idealism, romanticism, perfectionism and the
problems of anger, judgementalism and frustration.
He was not being biblical nor realistic in his views of
marriage, ministry, self or sanctification.

Well, this is not all of Schaeffer's works but close and you can grow in many ways as you let this insightful man show you the poisoned air of your culture and how to breathe freely in Christ.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin

P. S. Also visit me at my website
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM

Posted: 12:23:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


THE PASSING OF A WOMAN OF GOD WE SHOULD ALL KNOW

04/11/2013

Edith Schaeffer, the wife of missionary evangelist and apologist, Francis Schaeffer, passed away last week at 98 years old. I was privileged to hear her speak and read several of her books. Her speaking style and writing style were similar--you were sitting enjoying a cup of tea with her and talking together of important things of time and eternity.

I was privileged to hear her speak in Indianapolis at the premier of HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE ? and later WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?.
She was involved with everything her more famous husband did--and he was the richer for it. Thousands of visitors to their outreach center in remote Switzerland, L'abri, testified that her warm, loving hospitality and warm cinnamon rolls led as many people to Christ as her husband's compelling arguments for the truthfulness of Christianity and the gospel.

I RECOMMEND THE FOLLOWING BOOKS BY HER:

L'ABRI; Baker--the history of their world-renowned ministry in the mountains of Switzerland. Students and disenchanted people from around Europe and eventually the world came to L'Abri to meet this little man who treat you with respect and could answer the big questions of life from the Bible. Edith's role as wife,
mother, co-founder, and exemplar of hospitality can be seen being worked out.

THE HIDDEN ART OF HOMEMAKING; Baker--God is creative and being made in His image, men and women are creative. She shows how you decorate
and furnish your homes is a way to express your "hidden art". God is the God of beauty, not ugliness!
Many stay at home wives think that their work is drudgery. And it can be if divorced from our calling as humans to use our gifts to re-create the world around us. From how we set the table, to choosing flowers for window boxes, to how to serve a meal--all these things show the traits of our loving and infinitely creative Creator. Great for wives and single gals and the men who love them and have a bump of discernment!

WHAT IS A FAMILY ?; Baker--students coming to visit L'Abri would often reveal their broken or dysfunctional homes and their "hang-ups" with marriage in the last half of the 20th century. The view of so many today is that marriage is a mess not worth making. Edith patiently shows why God has us to marry and what a healthy family produces in the lives of its members. Very, very good.

AFFLICTION; Baker--what began for Edith as a sore tooth became a root canal, complicated by a long-lasting infection and God's lesson in affliction. What are God's purposes in His people trails, heartaches and tribulations? What is He up to in all these things? With her "let's sit down over a cup of tea and talk about this" style, Edith patiently and biblically answers the questions we all ask. Highly recommended.

She being dead, still speaks. And humble, teachable Christians should listen to her and gain great good.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin

Posted: 04:51:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


BIOGRAPHIES TO CAPTURE YOUR IMAGINATION AND YOUR HEART

04/01/2013

Biographies can be most important tools in God's arsenal to make His people more like Christ. How so? Well, biographies take us out of our own day by day situation and place us in another time and place and help us to see how a man or woman of God lived their life.

C. S. Lewis wrote a famous introduction to a book not well known any more, St. Athanasius' ON THE INCARNATION. (An early church "father" and hero of the truth, he successfully led the reclaiming of the full Deity and humanity of Christ against the heretical but persuasive Arius.) C. S. Lewis wrote an introduction to encourage modern readers to read "old" books. Why? Well, a certain amount of modesty (Who am I to think I can read the "great man"?) and perhaps a bit of laziness ("Man, no way I want to wade through all that hard reading of the "great man".) leaves readers in a place where they only read the stuff of their own generation and culture. Lewis' argument was that "old books" were culture specific and generation specific too BUT they were not our culture or generation. So our blind spots and unexamined biases could better be seen against the backdrop of older writers who had their issues BUT not our issues.

Even so, reading biographies of men and women of the faith in times past can help us to see ourselves in a more unbiased mirror. Our own times have a bias of blindness to our weaknesses of our time and place. Reading biographies of people in other times and places give us in truth a firmer grasp on ourselves and our times and places.

All this to say, read biographies and prepare to be challenged. I can think of biographies of men and women I have read that have challenged me to be more consecrated unto Christ, to put my sins to death, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh. Biographies have challenged me to rethink what I am doing and how I am doing it. Biographies have challenged me to re-examine my understanding of what it means to be a Christian and follow Jesus Christ in obedient discipleship.

If you have not read one or more of the following biographies, pick it up and prayerfully read through it, asking the Lord to open your eyes to new possibilities.

Aurelius Augustine, CONFESSIONS; Whitaker House
The first great Christian theologian whose insights
have lasted for 1500 years! Here Augustine relates
his spiritual pilgrimage and coming to faith in Christ
in a most insightful way. Whitaker House has put
it into an easy to read format.

Roland Bainton, HERE I STAND (A Life of Martin
Luther); Hendrickson--Why was there a Protestant
Reformation? What sort of a person was Martin
Luther? How did God work in his life? What did
God show him? What did God do through him?
Still the best of Luther biographies and a fascinating
and edifying read. (Everything that was a problem
in the Roman Catholic religion in the early 1500's
is still there today. Paying for indulgences has been
replaced by working for indulgences. Other than
that, all the problems and pitfalls, superstitions
and bad theology are still in place today.

John Bunyan, GRACE ABOUNDING TO THE CHIEF OF
SINNERS; Whitaker House--Bunyan's own account
of God's grace working in His life to save him and
keep him.

Iain H. Murray, JONATHAN EDWARDS: A NEW
BIOGRAPHY; Banner of Truth--perhaps the best
biography of Edwards by the man who most shares
his theology and view of the ministry. See why he
being dead, still speaks today!

Arnold Dallimore, GEORGE WHITEFIELD (2 volumes);
Crossway--the life and times of the greatest
evangelist in world history to date. Reading it for
the first time some thirty five years ago, I was
shocked by the power of God resting on this man's
life and ministry. Rereading it a few years later, I
was struck and humbled by Whitefield's humility
and love!

Iain H. Murray, WESLEY AND THOSE WHO FOLLOWED;
Banner of Truth--an insightful biography of Wesley
by a friendly admirer and critic of Wesley. The short
biographies of "those who followed" made me deeply
convicted and to plead with God to be more Christ-
like and useful to the Master.

Faith Cook, SELINA, COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON;
(Her pivotal role in the 18th century Evangelical
Awakening); Banner of Truth--a great biography
by a great biographer of a great woman much
used of God in another century.

Timothy George, FAITHFUL WITNESS (The Life and
Mission of William Carey); New Hope Press--the life
of a simple man of God, who, warts and all, was
given grace to persevere (His motto was: "I plod
well".) The "father" of the modern missions
movement is given his due.

Courtney Anderson, TO THE GOLDEN SHORE (The Life
of Adoniram Judson); Judson Press--an amazing
biography of a man of God (and his three godly
wives) who endured so much for the sake of the
gospel of Christ in Burma. Reminds me of the old
adage: "I felt sorry for myself that I had no shoes
until I met this man who had no feet". It is hard
to complain after reading this moving bio.

Andrew Bonar, MEMOIR AND REMAINS OF ROBERT
MURRAY M'CHEYNE; Banner of Truth--a biography
that has been used in the lives of many believers
to reconsecrate their lives to Christ and holy living.
Try it and see!

Douglas Kelly, PREACHERS WITH POWER (Four
Stalwarts of the Old South); Banner of Truth--four
brief biographies that recapture the unique lives
and ministries of four 19th century Southern
Presbyterian preachers whom God greatly used--
Daniel Baker (the "Apostle of Texas"), James
Henley Thornwell (the golden tongued theologian),
Benjamin Morgan Palmer "THE preacher of New
Orleans")and John Girardeau ("the Spurgeon of
the South"). Four unforgettable biographies in one
package.

Iain H. Murray, THE FORGOTTEN SPURGEON; Banner
of Truth--a great biography with great spiritual
insight and power. Spurgeon was almost
"forgotten" by 20th century believers until this
1961 biography appeared to give Spurgeon back
his rightful place as the "prince of preachers".

John G. Paton, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN G.
PATON; Banner of Truth--vies with Courtney
Anderson's biography of Judson as the greatest
missionary biography ever written. Read how truth
can be stranger than fiction as God works in
amazing grace among the south Pacific Islanders
of what is now called Vanuatu.

Corrie Ten Boom, THE HIDING PLACE; Revell--the
story of a 51 years old single woman in Holland
whose country is taken over by the Nazi's during
World War II. She and her family hide Jews from
the concentration camps only to be discovered
and thrown into concentration camps. All the
family dies in concentration camps except Corrie
who is released on a "typist's error" and spend the
remainder of her life telling people that there is no
hell hole one can find oneself in but "Christ is
deeper still". Read it and weep with her.

Iain H. Murray, THE LIFE OF MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
(1899-1981); Banner of Truth--hot off the press,
this is a condensation of the two volume work of
some 1200 pages! Here Murray skims of the cream
off the larger volumes and gives us a faster moving
view of the life of arguably the greatest preacher
(in English) of the 20th century and one of the
greatest Christians in the history of the English
language. Murray also answers his critics of the
earlier volumes.

Iain H. Murray, HEROES; Banner of Truth--read about
a list of famous and unheard of men and women
of God whose lives are worthy of emulation.

I could multiply examples (and may do that soon) but this will get you started.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin



Posted: 11:07:04 AM :: permalink :: discuss ::


COULD WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT HEAVEN FILL A THIMBLE ?

03/25/2013

Christians are often accused, even by their pastors and leaders, of not being very heavenly minded. We are told that we are too much minded of this world. We are told that we give too little credence or attention to the world to come. Critics of Christendom may be right. I do not know the hearts and souls of anybody beside myself and even then I am biased. As a pastor and observer of the American culture and the American Christian sub-culture, I suspect there may be some truth to those accusations.

Have you pastor or elders preached on heaven lately? Have they preached about heaven in any depth like in a sermon or S. S. series? Have you read books about heaven as a church family and discussed what you read and fellowshipped over what you learned? I expect the answer to several of these questions would be "No".

There was a time when many working men and women yearned for heaven because life here on this fallen planet was so hard. Not only was the Lord's Day a welcome rest from the weariness of the daily grind. It was also a little slice of heaven. One could rest from one's labors, focus on Christ and eternal realities, free from the flow of daily life.

But many people's lives are different now. A healthy 35 year old Christian might be tempted to think they have "their best life now" (to quote a famous heretic). Good health, creature comforts unimagined 50 years ago, food in abundance, electronic toys, distractions by the boatload, etc. Why interrupt this life of pleasant excess to go to some nebulous world to come? Maybe God is going to bring the perfections of heaven to this world now!

God in His infinite mercy and wisdom does not allow us to stay too long in this fantasy world of our make-believe. Jobs fail. Health fails. Marriages fail. Relationships fail. Children fail. We fail ourselves. Cultures and civilizations crumble. Life can too quickly be seen to be short, dirty and nasty. Our illusions can quickly disappear like your breath on a cold morning.

When a person becomes a Christian, God guarantees the whole process, from election in eternity to final entrance into heaven--and all the stages in-between. We are blessed to have quite a number of really good books on heaven available today. I suggest you buy and read two and give one to your pastor.

Here is what is available today that is really good.

BOOKS TO GIVE TO PASTORS AND ELDERS:

Edward Donnelly, THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN AND HELL; Banner of Truth--a modern classic that scares the reader who is not saved and overwhelms the reader who is a Christian with the glories of the world to come. Presbyterian pastor, professor and guest preacher sobers and exhilarates with the biblical truths.

Dan Barber and Robert Peterson, LIFE EVERLASTING (THE UNFOLDING STORY OF HEAVEN); P & R--a stimulating and thought provoking examination of how God fits believers for heaven and brings them to heaven.

Bruce Milne, THE MESSAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL
(The Bible Speaks Today Series); IVP--Baptist theologian (having formerly taught at Spurgeon's College) and Vancouver pastor explains with clarity and conviction the realities of the world to come.

BOOKS FOR LAYMEN:

Randy Alcorn, HEAVEN; Tyndale
Randy Alcorn, 50 DAYS OF HEAVEN; Tyndale
Mr. Alcorn has done us a service by highlighting heaven in two popular books. The first books could be subtitled, "Everything You Wanted to Know About Heaven But Were Afraid to Ask". The second book is a daily devotion geared to making you think daily about heaven for 50 days. If you like the first one, buy and use the second one!

Charles Spurgeon, WE SHALL SEE GOD; Tyndale
(edited by Randy Alcorn). That's right, the author of the two books above on heaven, went through the sermons of Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher, and gleaned the best quotes and stories and put them in a devotional book. We gave one to my mother in law as she has struggled with dementia in her final stages of her pilgrimage, and she has liked it enormously!

Joni Eareckson Tada, HEAVEN; Zondervan--anything by Joni is biblical, practical, honest, warm, Christ-exalting and worth reading. Like South American missionary Elizabeth Eliot (THROUGH GATES OF SPLENDOR) and African missionary doctor Helen Roseveare (WE ASKED FOR A MOUNTAIN and HE GAVE US A VALLEY), heroines of the previous generation of believers, Joni has earned our respect by her biblical and courageous faith in the face of immense suffering
(broken neck, quadriplegic, cancer, constant pain, helpless and dependent upon others, etc, etc. etc.).

E. M. Bounds, A PLACE CALLED HEAVEN; Whitaker House--the author of the rightly famous book on prayer, the heavenly minded pastor also wrote about the place of our Savior and Intercessor. The Lord Jesus is in heaven and is taking us there. Worth the read. By an evangelical Methodist pastor of another time.

Jonathan Edwards, HEAVEN--A WORLD OF LOVE; Banner of Truth (Puritan Pocket Booklet). Vilified by generations of American public school English teachers for his sermon, SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD, Edwards, not surprisingly, was not like the straw man his detractor concocted and destroyed. Even in the infamous sermon noted above, Edwards emphasis was upon the grace of God which kept us out of hell. It was not fire and brimstone. HEAVEN--A WORLD OF LOVE, is the final chapter from his longer exposition on 1st Corinthians 13--CHARITY AND ITS FRUITS. Here pastor and theologian Edwards shows the reader how the heaven is the culmination of all of the believer's longing for heaven and love.

SPECIAL BOOKS ABOUT ISSUES RELATED TO HEAVEN

James Bruce, FROM GRIEF TO GLORY; Banner of Truth--stories of famous and not so famous Christians who lost children and how their hope of heaven sustained them in the midst of their great grief.

J. C. Ryle, SHALL WE KNOW ONE ANOTHER?; Nolan Christian Publishing--classic by Ryle on the perennial question: "Shall we know our loved ones in heaven?".

Mary Lou Davis, ARE THERE HORSES IN HEAVEN?
Christian Focus Publications--a good book to give to horse lovers, saved or lost, to cause them to think about life's ultimate issues.

Paul Wolfe, SETTING OUR SIGHTS ON HEAVEN; (Why It's Hard and Why It's Worth It); Banner of Truth--Presbyterian pastor Paul Wolfe was stricken with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in his mid-thirties. Like some precious relatives of mine, it is treatable but not curable. It will eventually get you. Pastor Wolfe wrote about his struggles and rest in Christ in his first book, MY GOD IS TRUE. This book helps the believer to really begin to become heavenly minded. Thank you, Pastor Wolfe, for a great help to your fellow pilgrims.

These good books should give you all you need not to be one of those professed Christians who never thinks let alone longs for heaven.

Your Book Servant and Fellow Pilgrim,

Pastor Steve Martin





Posted: 03:13:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


HELP ME UNDERSTAND MY BIBLE

03/19/2013

When people become Christians, they become readers. That has always been the genius of Protestantism. Men and women, boys and girls, converted as a result of the spread of gospel light during the 16th century, became readers. Because the Reformers arguments with Rome (and the spiritualist charismatics of the day) centered on the Scriptures as the only Word of God, Protestants have always trumpeted "sola Scroptura"--the Scriptures alone are our final authority for faith and practice. And historians of the Reformation have rarely failed to notice that God in His mercy had Gutenberg invent moveable type so that the Word of God count be printed for the people of God who now had a hunger for the Scriptures.

This brings me to the point of today's BLOG, reading the Scriptures in private devotions. Since I was converted in 1969, I have read the Scriptures--usually in the morning but sometimes in the afternoon or evening. I went from being lost--with God, without hope, and in the world--to being found, with God, with hope and in Christ's Church. The new birth gives God's true believers a hunger to know and obey the Scriptures (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

How did they do this ? Old Testament scholars and scholars of the printed book tell us that Old Testament saints did not have universal literacy--not everyone knew how to read. But they did have synagogue leaders who read the Scriptures aloud--literally lining out each verse to be repeated back by the congregation and done verse by verse until the passage under discussion was completed. This practice carried on into the early centuries of the Christian church. That is why Romans 10:16 says that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". If books had been readily available and literacy more prominent, Paul might have said: "faith comes by reading and reading by the Word of God". No, books were too hard to make and way too expensive. So people memorized what they heard in synagogue or church and people were famed for how much they had memorized, not how many books they had read.

But since the invention of moveable type and the printing press, books and Bibles are much more affordable and reading literacy is to be valued. It is true, "readers are leaders". God in His Word promises no special blessings for being ignorant!

We live in a day when books are plentiful and relatively inexpensive--and they can last for a lifetime or more! As believers, when we read our Bibles, we need help. The Bible is a huge book dealing with ancient customs and practices, names that are hard to pronounce, and places that seem exotics and downright foreign! But two things make Bible reading a blessing and not a waste of time. God has not changed and mankind's nature and need of salvation has not changed. Cultures and clothing, modes of transportation and warfare, food and jewelry have changed--but our Sovereign and Holy God, glorious in power and majesty, fearsome in judgment but displaying grace and mercy to multitudes has not changed. The Bible is the book that explains the world, explains us, explains God and explains how to know God and fit into His plans for the building up of His Kingdom on earth.

What are some tools that can make your daily Bible reading so helpful and profitable? What tools exist to help you grow in your knowledge of the Bible and the science of Christ-crucified?

A BEGINNER'S KIT FOR DAILY BIBLE READING HELP

Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken and James Wilhoit,
RYKEN'S BIBLE HANDBOOK; Tyndale House--what a helpful Bible handbook--just enough to get you started with key concepts, maps, charts, important themes, etc. that takes much of the mystery out of so many Old Testament and New Testament books (What is Obadiah about? What is Jude so upset about?) Have this book at your side for your daily Bible reading.

Rodger Crooks, ONE LORD, ONE PLAN, ONE PEOPLE; Banner of Truth--a goldmine of useful help on each book of the Bible showing you how each book connects with the whole and the unfolding of God's plan of redeeming a people for His own. High recommended.

INTERMEDIATE HELP FOR DAILY BIBLE READING:

D. A. Carson, THE GOD WHO IS THERE (Finding Your Place in God's Story); Baker Books--gives a concise overview of the main points of the Bible related to today's mindset. A faithful tour of the Bible landscape.

Mark Dever, THE STORY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ()Promises Made); Crossway--Dever preaches a great sermon on each book of the Old Testament, showing its major focus and helping you understand how it fits into the flow of what God is doing. God was making promises to His covenant people, Israel, and to humanity.

Mark Dever, THE STORY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
(Promises Kept); Crossway--Dever preaches sermons on each book of the New Testament showing its major focus and helping you understand how it fits into the flow of what God is doing. God was keeping His promises to Israel and to humanity.

Iain Duguid, IS JESUS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?;
P & R--shows how to read the Old Testament and look for the Savior. A great booklet.

Stuart Olyott, I WISH SOMEONE WOULD EXPLAIN HEBREWS TO ME; Banner of Truth--a gem of a book,
explaining clearly and in a spiritually edifying manner what is arguably the most difficult book of the New Testament for 21st century Gentile converts--the bulk of us.

J. Gresham Machen, THE NEW TESTAMENT: AN INTRODUCTION TO ITS HISTORY AND LITERATURE; BAnner of Truth--what a helpful book. Originally magazine articles, they were all bound together into this most helpful book. Machen could not be dry or unclear if he tried. A most useful overview.

Gerard Chrispin, THE BIBLE PANORAMA (Enjoying the whole Bible with a chapter-by-chapter guide); Day One Publications--also has an accompanying free CD.
A most useful daily Bible reading help which gives enough information to aid learning but not so much as to make the reader become bogged down.

May the Lord enable your prayerful and humble reading of His holy and inerrant Word enable you to behold His glory and have you be more conformed to what you see! And as you are under the means of grace on the Lord's Day, may that same humble, prayerful attitude cause your heart to sing as His Word is read, prayed, sung and preached.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin


Posted: 03:05:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


YOU SPEND A THIRD OF YOUR WAKING HOURS AT WORK--MAKE THEM COUNT

03/08/2013

We spend a third of our time sleeping and a third of our time at work, leaving the rest for personal things and the rest of "life".

Sadly, many Christians (I almost said most) do not see the value of what they do at work. Whether through neglect of teaching or poor teaching, most professing Christians today do not understand the Bible's teaching that all of life is to be consecrated to God, and our work is our "calling" (from the Latin, VOCA, for calling). The New Testament views our work as something God has indeed called us to do. The New Testament does not divide up our lives into air-tight "sacred" and "secular" partitions. Rather, all of life is to be lived to the glory of God. (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-23; 1st Corinthians 10:31, et. al.).
Whether I am a pastor or plumber, missionary or mother at home, seminary professor or cowboy, I am to live my life in service to Christ and take seriously what I do as entrusted to me by God as my calling.

So when I drive to work on Monday morning, or stay home to work at home on Monday morning, I am just as spiritually on target as the pastor who "worked" on Sunday at his calling.

It is amazing to me that we spend a third of our lives working but give so little thought to what the Word of God says about work. What is work? What work is pleasing to Him? Are some forms of work "off-limits"?

The following materials will help you form your own convictions on work and how to do it unto the glory of God, see its significance before God and give your best to it.

Eric Redmond, THE GOD OF THE MUNDANE; Kalos
Press--I know, I highlighted this book last week,
but it bear upon so many things for the average
layman. You cheat yourself by not reading and
applying it. The Scriptural admonitions to be
busy at home and doing your work unto the Lord
far outweigh the injunctions to pastors and
missionaries to get busy and evangelize the world.
If Christians were focused on their callings and
faithful, how different the churches would be AND
the world around us would be.

Gene Edward Veith, GOD AT WORK (Your Christian
Vocation In All Of Life); Crossway--shows how all
of life is to be lived to the glory of God AND our
daily work is our calling to render to God.

Lester DeKoster, WORK--THE MEANING OF YOUR LIFE;
Christian Library Press--a uniquely insightful
work that shows how all of our work is inter-related
and used by God in His eternal purposes.

Paul Helm, THE CALLINGS; Banner of Truth--the 3rd
of 3 books by Professor Helm on what it means to
become and be a Christian.

Wayne Grudem, BUSINESS TO THE GLORY OF GOD;
Crossway--covers the basics of business from a
Christian perspective.

James W. Alexander, THE MAN OF BUSINESS (His
Influence, Temptations, Responsibilities, Enterprise
and Principles of Action); Solid Ground Christian
Books--19th century classic resurrected for the
21st century by Solid Ground publishers.

Richard Steele, THE RELIGIOUS TRADESMAN; Sprinkle
Publications and a modern language paperback
A Puritan classic updated for us today.

Craig Blomberg, NEITHER POVERTY NOR RICHES (A
Biblical Theology of Possessions); IVP--THE BEST
BOOK on the place of material possessions and
are aim in working.

Stephen Nichols, WHAT IS VOCATION?; P & R--a little
booklet that carries a big wallop. A good place to
start.

May the Lord give you unction to study and know what He wants from your life's labors. To have lived your life and simply felt as if you were killing time would be a tragedy. Life is now--not after you retire, not after you reach a certain financial plateau, not after you have your dream job.

May the Lord give you grace to see how your work matters.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin

Posted: 12:50:38 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


A TRACT FOR THE EVANGELICAL AND REFORMED TIMES

03/05/2013

In light of the current wave of books and sermons by many of the young, restless and Reformed types, I have found Francis Schaeffer's NO LITTLE PEOPLE a most important book to read every two years or so to keep me sane and on target.

Let me give you some background. In my early student ministry days, us young men in parachurch leadership were told: "What is the biggest position you can occupy so that you can influence more people for Christ?" And in the immortal words of cultural analyst and intergalactic smuggler, Han Solo, "I don't know; I can imagine a lot!"

Without realizing it, fleshly ambition and carnal pride were often given full rein. When I first read NO LITTLE PEOPLE, I actually looked up the Luke 14 passage that Schaeffer explains because I did not remember reading it in my Bible! I was stunned by what I read.

At our weekly staff meeting we sat down as staff and we compared the Scriptures with what we were getting from parachurch headquarters. We disliked rejecting the counsel of our superiors. But we sought to be faithful to the Scriptures in our time and place--and amazingly we ended up having "the most successful ministry" according to the church growth standards of our parachurch ministry!

I now speak to us evangelical and Reformed folks.
What we want written on our tombstones and on our life's work is FAITHFUL--not edgy, not "he pushed the envelope", not "he was creative", not "he was innovative"--we leave such things to the heterodox and heretical. Rather, we want to be known as faithful. Exercising faith is a risk and being faithful is a risk. If not, it is merely "sight". Preachers and authors today exhort us to take great risks for Christ and His Kingdom. But before we leave to attempt our "great thing" we first must examine more closely what is meant by "taking risks"!

As one close brother said in my hearing a quarter of a century ago: "Being faithful sounds too vanilla, like the goals of an old man!" But he went on to say that he knew better. He explained that avoiding all the pitfalls and sloughs, temptations and potential train wrecks, it was no small things to actually make it to glory. Actually finishing and finishing well is a master stroke of God's sovereign grace. As the book of Revelation repeats over and over again, it is not those who start well, it is not those who are comets blazing across the Christian horizon briefly, it is not those who are doing "big and important things" for a time, it it those who "persevere to the end" that are saved. Even Judas preached with power and cast out demons. But he was but a mere tool and not a son. (Read that last sentence a second time to let it settle in.)

If we only realized how hard it is to finish well and not lose our testimony, not fall into life-affecting sin, not lose the gospel and to keep Christ in our hearts and on our lips--we would know that "faithful" is a
mighty tough thing to attain. None of us have arrived yet.

I am thankful that several books are now available to speak sanity into a culture and Christian subculture that wreaks of fame and glitter and cotton candy and "baubles, bangles and bright shiny beads" of celebrity ministry and flashy, contemporary "cutting edge", "culturally sensitive" content but has lost the substance.

Francis Schaeffer, NO LITTLE PEOPLE; Crossway--the
first sermon in this book of sermons is worth the
price of the book and five other books. The whole
book is good but the first sermon is perpetually
timely. In the Kingdom of God, there are no "little
people" and their are no "little places" of service.
There are ambitious men in over their heads who
are choking on a place of their choosing that is too
big for them and they have lost their peace with
God. In the words of 19th century giant Horatius
Bonar of Scotland, to a young man at his
denomination's General Assembly who was
complaining about the small size of the rural
congregation he was given upon graduation from
seminary. "Young man, you will not think your
congregation small when you must give account
for it on Judgment Day." (Readers who might not
know this should see Hebrews 13:17 and related
passages which reveal that Christian pastors and
elders must give an account to God on Judgment
Day for the souls entrusted to their care.)

Matt Redmond, THE GOD OF THE MUNDANE
(Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People);
Kalos Press--a former high powered pastor gently
and powerfully talks about his misunderstanding
of Scripture and how his pulpit ministry beat his
people with a wrong view of the normal Christian
life. Only a fraction of all Christians are called to be
pastors and preachers of the gospel, church
planting missionaries and the like. The rest of us
are called to be faithful to the place we were when
God saved us, preparing for or fleshing out being
Christian plumbers, architects, bakers, candlestick
makers, mothers at home, beauticians, doctors
and farmers. This important book should be read
by all pastors and elders and sheep, whether tired,
weary, abused or young,m restless and reformed
sheep.

David Harvey, RESCUING AMBITION; Crossway--an
outstanding treatment of sinful ambition vs.
ambition for the glory of God. A most important
read! Every pastor should take the men of his
church through this book. It is a bomb on the
playground of the type of business books that
teach you how to win at all costs, how to grab
the brass ring and how to build up your own
kingdom in your own lifetime.

Kent and Barbara Hughes, LIBERATING THE MINISTRY
FROM THE SUCCESS SYNDROME; Crossway--now
retired, Kent Hughes was one of the premier
expositors of the last quarter of the 20th century.
Beginning in California and finishing in Wheaton,
Pastor Hughes modeled faithful exposition of God's
Word. Here he and his wife tell about their battles
with the demons of "success", "bigger is better",
"numbers are everything", etc. Should be read by
every pastor, elders, deacon and seminarian! It is
not just businessmen who struggle with fleshly
ambition and worldly standards of success.

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin




Posted: 11:26:00 AM :: permalink :: discuss ::


WOULD YOU WANT TO BE STRANDED ON SOME DESERTED ISLAND WITH JOHN CALVIN ?

02/26/2013

It is not a frivolous question. Many believers, myself at one time included, think of John Calvin the way they think of the Apostle Paul--great teacher, insightful theologian, powerful persona BUT he is probably not the kind of person you would want to be trapped with on a deserted island. Or more realistically, you would not want to be sitting next to you as you sit by the window on a airline flight to Johannesburg (currently Delta's longest non-stop at 17+ hours from Atlanta to J-burg)!

Why do Christians have such an attitude about John Calvin (or the Apostle Paul for that matter). Well for starters, we view them in a one dimensional manner--through letters or books--through written documents about long ago. And besides, they wrote powerful letters and books, didn't they?! But we never stop to ask what were they like as people? In this BLOG, i want to put you in touch with some great materials to help you treasure this man of God (John Calvin), as you should. (Perhaps another time, I can write about Paul.)

As one writer puts it, Calvin was a man of "deep and lasting affection, passionately concerned for the cause of Christ in the world; a man who burned himself out for the gospel". He trained hundreds of missionaries for France and even a few for Brazil! He was a faithful pastor to his people, a loving husband and a grieving father, who lost his one and only child in infancy. He had many friends across Europe.

Let me give you some really helpful starters on John Calvin that will move you to bring this man close to your heart. You will not want to have him just on your dusty book shelves but close to your heart.

W. J. Grier, THE LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN; Banner of
Truth--pride of place for a short biography goes to
Grier's work. Trained at Princeton and a friend of
Professor Machen, Pastor Grier's bookstore in Belfast,
along with his pastoring an evangelical Presbyterian
church, his holy life and leadership in the early years
of the Banner of Truth will be remembered and
cherished by all who knew him. This biography sticks
close to the narrative of Calvin's life and covers the
main points in a short space. A really good
beginner's biography.

Richard Stauffer, THE HUMANNESS OF JOHN CALVIN
(The Reformer a a Husband, Father, Pastor and
Friend); Solid Ground Christian Books--in the
1990's, British historian and cultural analyst Paul
Johnson wrote two blockbusters, MODERN TIMES
(The World From the Twenties to the Nineties) and
INTELLECTUALS. I turned your attention to the
second book. Johnson examines the lives of several
famous public intellectuals who claimed to have the
inside track on the world and life and how society
ought to be ordered and civilization should be
governed. Johnson's premiss though was to first
ask: How did this person treat their family and how
did they treat their friends? Well, all of the
intellectuals treated their families and friends
abominably. French Swiss Reformation scholar
Richard Stauffer rescues Calvin from the mud and
misinformation thrown upon him to show the
shining humanity and great husband, father and
friend he was. He was also a loving pastor to his
flock. A must read for anyone who calls
himself a Calvinist or Reformed or Augustinian!

Robert Godfrey, JOHN CALVIN (PILGRIM AND PASTOR)
Crossway--right after Stauffer's book, read this
great examination of Calvin's life as a Christian
pilgrim (on the road to the Celestial City) and as a
pastor of a local congregation. Thank you, Dr.
Godfrey for consecrating your gifts to Christ's people.
This is a most helpful book.

Machiel van den Berg, FRIENDS OF CALVIN; Eerdmans
Reformed pastor and historian gives the reader a rich
feast of John Calvin's friendships with (1) an
aristocratic friend from his youth; (2) a companion
and friend for life; (3) a friend in the Reformed
resistance; (4) a friend who turned away; (5) a
biblical relative and friend; (6) a royal friend; (7) a
friend in love; (8) an exegetical friend; (9) a
passionate, intense friend; (10) his 'best friend of
all'; (11) a fatherly friend; (12) a Lutheran friend;
(13) his loving partner and wife; (14) a medical
friend; (15) a brother and friend; (16) a friend from
the same birthplace; (17) a friend who turned into
an enemy; (18) a trusted friend; (19) a Dutch
couple; (20) an Italian friend; (21) a whole French
family as friends; (22) A Swiss friend; (23) A
Scottish friend; (24) his friend and successor. Short
timed Calvinists and long time Calvinists ought to
read and savor this book.

Joel Beeke, ed.; CALVIN FOR TODAY; Reformation
Heritage Books--Dutch Reformed whirlwind Joel
Beeke has edited a great compendium of messages
given at the conference in Grand Rapids celebrating
the 500th year since Calvin's birth. Contributors
include Old Testament scholar and preacher, David
Murray, Systematic theologian and preacher, Derek
Thomas, Systematic Theologian, author and
seminary president Cornelius Venema, Dutch
Reformed preacher Neal Pronk, Reformed Baptist
historian Michael Haykin, Presbyterian theologian
and pastor Ligon Duncan and Presbyterian seminary
president and preacher Joey Pipa. Their contributions
make this book way above average on books
celebrating Calvin's 500th birthday. It is especially
valuable to pastors and elders and informed laymen.
Some of the better chapters are:

David Murray, CALVIN ON PREACHING CHRIST
FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

Joey Pipa, CALVIN ON THE HOLY SPIRIT

Derek Thomas, REDEMPTION: SPEAKING PEACE IN
THE 21ST CENTURY

Neal Pronk, CALVIN'S DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH

Derek Thomas, CALVIN ON REFORMING THE
CHURCH

Michael Haykin, CALVIN AND THE MISSIONARY
ENDEAVOR OF THE CHURCH

Ligon Duncan, CALVIN ON THE EARLY CHURCH

Michael Haykin, CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE IN THE 21ST
CENTURY: LISTENING TO CALVIN ON THE
PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

Joel Beeke, TWELVE REASONS CALVIN IS
IMPORTANT TODAY

And my favorite for several reasons,

Ligon Duncan, THE RESURGENCE OF CALVINISM
IN AMERICA

And there are more good chapters I haven't even mentioned!

Spend the rest of your winter and early spring reading these fascinating books on the misunderstood man who was not a cold, hard, logic-chopping doctrine machine but a warm, personal, faithful friend and husband and father who though he is dead, his life still speaks (not to mention his teachings!).

Your Book Servant,

Pastor Steve Martin


Posted: 05:15:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::