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Archive for the ‘Book Report’ Category

The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin Kris Lundgaard

Our pastor’s recent sermon from Mark 9 concerning the healing of the boy with the unclean spirit showed us the seriousness and warfare that is involved in fighting the remnant of our own sinful flesh. One point he brought out was that of unbelief. Even in believers there are remnants of unbelief that lead them into sin if they are not on their guard. A second point is that the fighting of sin is not easy for it does not want to leave. With these thoughts in mind, I would like to invite you to read a book that will assist you in the task of fighting sin in your life.

These two points of Brandon’s sermon are brought our in Kris Lundgaard’s book, The Enemy Within – Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin. Actually this book is a very modern and easy to read “rewriting” of two of the Puritan John Owen’s books, Indwelling Sin and The Mortification of Sin. In Lundgaard’s words he has attempted to “bring Owen into the Twenty-first century.”

While I would not discourage you from reading Owen’s works, this book is also well worth reading. Lungaard seeks to show us what the power of sin is, how it works, and what it does. He then leads us in a summary of how to fight it and kill it daily.

From a personal perspective this is one of only a handful of books that has given me assistance in the daily mortification of personal sin. I have benefited greatly from it and suggest it to you as an aid in your fighting and killing sin in your life. Remember to kill sin in our lives, we must

  1. conquer unbelief and
  2. remember that it is not easy, but it is worth it.

As Owen once said, “Be killing sin or [sin] will be killing you.” This book will aid you in this task.

Barry Sewell

A Life Worth Living and a Lord Worth Loving by Olyott

A Life Worth Living and a Lord Worth Loving is Stuart Olyott’s easy to read commentary on Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Both books of the Bible that are overlooked and misunderstood, Olyott helps the reader see the true meaning of each book while keeping the commentary simple and short. Each chapter leaves you yearning to know Christ better. This book is a great enhancement to personal Bible study, as are the other commentaries by Olyott in our library.

Beth Smith

The Cross He Bore by Fredrick Leahy

The Cross He Bore is an excellent book of short, meditative chapters reflecting on Christ’s journey from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Cross.This book truly helps us to turn our thoughts from ourselves and to our glorious Savior. Frederick Leahy uses his words to paint a beautiful picture of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.He uses the scriptures to bring out all of the details surrounding that historical event and leaves the reader full of gratitude to our Lord and Savior.This is a great book to read before Sunday worship to ready the heart for worship.

Beth Smith

Great God Of Wonders by Maurice Roberts

I am pleased to recommend a good devotional book, Great God of Wonders by Maurice Roberts. This book is a collection of Pastor Roberts devotional essays previously published in the Banner of Truth magazine. Thirty warmly biblical, pastoral, inspiring, and thought provoking essays in six subject areas: Prayer, Living for God, The Fellowship of the Church, Delighting in the Character of God, Understanding God’s Truth, and The Second Coming and Heaven.

Excerpt from the first essay, On Seeking God -

“Whatever the pressures are to the contrary, the serious Christian must keep a careful watch over the inner state and attitude of his own soul. Just as there are temptations for the careless and the idle Christian, so too are there snares for the Christian who becomes too busy. We are too busy whenever we cannot safeguard our times of private prayer, meditation and devotional Bible reading. What happens when outward duties become excessive and over-demanding is that inner, secret duties are performed in a merely routine way. It is all too possible to conduct our private and family worship with our minds half taken up with other things. We persuade ourselves that we have been worshipping God, but on such occasions we have been no better than those to whom God said, ‘This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.’ (Matt. 15:8)

The tendency of our soul when we allow ourselves to pray, read and worship with only half our minds is that we become accustomed to it. ‘Practice makes perfect’ in bad habits as well as in good ones. Days go by when we attend to the familiar work of secret worship in our ‘closet’ and yet never really put our heart into what we are doing. The sacred page is turned, but the lofty truths which we are reading have no effect upon our minds or upon our characters. This bad practice, if indulged in for long, becomes the norm. Days become weeks and weeks become months, during which we unconsciously slip deeper and deeper into the practice of prayerless praying and shallow, unfeeling devotions. For this soul sleep there is a high price to pay.”

Robin

Around the Wicket Gate by Charles H. Spurgeon

In an age where it has been pointed out that perhaps a majority of church members in most of our churches in America are unregenerate, a book such as Charles Spurgeon’s Around the Wicket Gate is much needed. John Bunyan made the phrase “the wicket gate” popular in his work , The Pilgrim’s Progress. In that allegory, the wicket gate represented the narrow gate that Christ reveals in Matthew 7:13-14 through which Christian, and all pilgrims, must past on their way to the Celestial City. In Around the Wicket Gate, Spurgeon makes use of this well-known story to reach out to those who may be all around the wicket gate but have never stepped through it. The subtitle of the book is “A Friendly Talk with Seekers Concerning Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the preface , Spurgeon writes:

“Millions of men are in the outlying regions, far off from God and peace; for these we pray, and to these we give warning. But just now we have to do with a smaller company, who are not far from the kingdom, but have come right to the wicket gate which stands at the head of the way of life. One would think that they would hasten to enter, for a free and open invitation is placed over the entrance, the porter waits to welcome them, and there is but this one way to eternal life. . . . I have prepared this little book in the earnest hope that he may work by it to the blessed end of leading seekers to an immediate, simple trust in the Lord Jesus.”

This book is written for those who are in the church, perhaps children who attend weekly with their parents. It is for those individuals who are on the church grounds with God’s people but as of yet have not stepped through the gate by faith into everlasting life themselves. Do you know someone like this? Are you one such as this? This book is for you to read and to give to others who are in need of its penetrating truth. It is easy to read, full of illustrations, and would be a good book to read with children who are asking questions about their salvation. It is also, however, an excellent book for adults. While our knowledge of the language and way of life of the 1800s may hinder us from understanding some of Spurgeon’s points, the main point is easy for our 21st century mind s to understand. He discusses the simplicity of faith and the difficulties that some may feel in believing, but throughout the book, Spurgeon points to Jesus Christ. He closes the book with comments to those who have believed. Near the end of the book, Spurgeon writes these words:

“You have taken poison and the physician brings an antidote, and says, “Take it quickly, or you will die; but i f you take it quickly, I will guarantee that the poison will be neutralized.” But you say, “No, doctor, I do not believe in antidotes. Let everything takes its course; let every tub stand on its own bottom; I will have nothing to do with your remedy. Besides, I do not believe that the re is any remedy for the poison I have taken and, what is more, I don’t care whether there is or not.” Well, sir you will die; and when the coroner’s inquest is held on your body, the verdict will be, “Served him right!” So will it be with you if, having heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, you say, “I am too much of an advanced man to have anything to do with that old-fashioned notion of substitution. I shall not attend to the preacher’s talk about sacrifice and blood shedding.” Then, when you perish, the verdict given by your conscience which will sit upon the King’s quest at last, will run thus. “Suicide: he destroyed his own soul.” . . . Reader, I implore thee, do not so.” (Emphasis Added)

This is just one example of the imploring Spurgeon does in this book to those who are almost saved, but completely lost. Even if you are a believer, this book cannot help but encourage you because believers need the gospel every day, just as those who are only “around the wicket gate.”

Barry W Sewell

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers

Douglas Bond

Christian Liberty Press, 1999, 237 pages

Annie and Drew are two American children stuck with having a long and boring summer in the dull, dreary town of Olney, England. With their mom working each day, they wander about the old village, full of old buildings, and an old stone church. Then, they meet old Mr. Pipes.

Mr. Pipes is not his real name. He is the organist for the church—hence, the nickname “Mr. Pipes”— and though he is old, he is full of stories and interesting hobbies, such as music, sailing the River Ouse and fishing for pike. Through the words of Mr. Pipes, the village of Olney is transformed from a dull, old town into a vibrant place full of history. Mr. Pipes is a student of music, especially that of the great hymn writers. As he befriends the children and teaches them to sail and to fish, he tells wondrous stories of God’s grace in the lives of men of faith. Annie and Drew develop a love for Mr. Pipes, for the town of Olney and a great appreciation for music as well as the arrangement of words to that music, words which glorify God.

Mr. Pipes recounts to the children tales about men such as Thomas Ken, the writer of the beloved “Doxology,” Charles Wesley, John Newton and Augustus Toplady. One of our favorite stories was about Isaac Watts, who had a natural gift for poetry, such that he seemed even to think in rhyme and verse. One night, his father rebuked him for giggling during family prayers. Little Isaac recited the thought which had made him giggle, a verse he had composed because he had just seen a mouse run up the bell pull:

There was a mouse for want of stairs

Ran up a rope to say his prayers.

Isaac’s gift of verse increased as he diligently studied his lessons. Finally, his father became so annoyed by his continual rhyming in conversation that he threatened to spank the boy. But he had a change of heart when the young lad, with tears, replied:

O father, do some mercy take

And I will no more verses make.

Of course, by God’s grace, Isaac did not forsake his gift but went on to be a much loved writer of hymns, becoming known as the Father of Hymnody.

This book was an enjoyable journey into the history of God-centered hymns we love to sing. The boys and I looked forward to our read-aloud times each day, wondering where Mr. Pipes would next take the children and what fascinating story he would tell. But there is another story told in the background of the book, a story which never loses its sense of wonder for the Christian, and that is the Gospel. As we watch Annie and Drew become aware of that Gospel under Mr. Pipes’ loving tutelage and his passion for God’s glory, we see the dawning of the light of understanding in their own hearts. By the end of the book, we see the gentle unfolding of grace in their lives.

I highly recommend this book as a family read-aloud. It should produce lots of giggles and aha moments as well as provoke some lively discussion and an overall appreciation of God-honoring music. And don’t be too sad when you close the book for the last time. The story doesn’t end there; Mr. Bond has graciously written not one, but two sequels: “Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation,” and “Mr. Pipes Comes to America.” We’re almost through with the second one and looking forward to see Mr. Pipes’ reaction to America!

Beth McMichen

New Home Group Book “Ordinary”

The Creator of Beauty is the Ultimate Beauty

Creation is beautiful precisely because its Creator is beautiful. God defines beauty by His very essence. He is the source and standard of all beauty. But the concept of God’s beauty is hard for us to imagine. For one thing, God is spirit (John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17), a reality that in itself poses problems; we are limited in our ability to understand God’s beauty in that our experience of beauty is essentially sensory. We cannot see God or smell God or touch God. He is “the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

Yet this invisible God has chosen to express the fullness of His beauty in physical ways. The display is not the beauty itself. We must not confuse God’s expression of His beauty with its essential character. That would be like mistaking a woman’s taste in fashion for her virtue. The created world in all its beauty is an expression of God’s beauty, but it is not the essence of His beauty. (Although if God’s visual display of beauty in creation is so awe-inspiring, imagine how wonderful His essential beauty must be!) We are accustomed to thinking about beauty as visual; to think of God as beautiful requires a definition that goes beyond the senses to the quintessence-the core-of essential beauty.

The beauties of this world whisper to our souls that there is someone ultimate. But the ultimate is never found in the wonderland of creation. We keep looking and longing for the beauty behind the beauty, the One who will satisfy the cravings of our soul. This explains why the drug addict keeps shooting up and the porn addict keeps looking and the materialist keeps buying and the thrill-seeker keeps jumping. On the other side of one thrill is the constant need for another. C. S. Lewis wrote, “We are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”

There is embedded in our spiritual DNA, and ancient memory of when everything was as it ought to be, when everything was in harmony. We retain this as a kind of suppressed memory. Beauty was created by God for a purpose: to give us the experience of wonder. And wonder, in turn, is intended to lead us to the ultimate human expression and privilege: worship. Beauty is both a gift and a map. It is a gift to be enjoyed and a map to be followed back to the source of the beauty with praise and thanksgiving. Adam and Eve did this with every experience of beauty in the garden. Every morning the heavens (and everything else) declared the glory of God; and as the first humans saw the sun rise, the beauty produced wonder and the wonder led them to worship. They saw the beauty all around them as a reflection of God’s nature and used it as a starting point to praise Him.

DeWitt, Steve Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God In Everything . Credo House. Grand Rapids, MI 2012

Praises for the King of Kings

In order to worship rightly we must know what the object of our worship requires. The regulative principle gives us a valuable aid in knowing what we ought to do. I believe with all my heart that true worship must be done in specific obedience to God’s revealed will. Nevertheless, we can do all the ‘right’ things but still not appreciate the object of our worship. This little book (114 pages) will be a great aid in helping us to know Christ better. Knowledge is essential to love for we cannot love someone who we do not know. Pastor Walt Chantry takes three Psalms (2, 45, & 110) and illustrates what it means for us to fix our minds on Christ and have our hearts filled with his love. In my experience I have come to expect commentaries to be dry and intellectual but the devotional intensity of this book took me by surprise – I certainly learned more about the text which is the point of a commentary, but as the vivid word-pictures of David came alive I was inevitably drawn into more informed worship for the ‘King of Kings.’

brother Robin Eckhardt

Eckhardt

 

Quotes from Pastor Chantry’s introduction:

“This volume is not written for the hurried person who is grasping for some media bite along the way, a minute with Jesus and no more. It is intended for the searching heart which acknowledges that it is worth giving time and extended thought in order to see the King in his beauty.”

“To behold Jesus, to adore him, and to rejoice in his praises are not means to higher ends. Fixing the eyes of our souls upon the Lamb of God, and bowing before him in joyful, loving worship is the highest end of our existence, the only fully satisfying experience of the human heart, the chief ingredient of human blessedness. ‘That I may know him …’ (Philippians 3:10) and enjoy him forever is the end for which every saint lives.”

“Perhaps some will read these pages who have never detected any glory in Jesus Christ. ‘He had no beauty or majesty’  (Isaiah 53:2). If you find no loveliness in Christ, that fact should alarm you.”

“Three thousand years ago the Lord prepared a poet to give us remarkable revelations about Jesus, the Messiah. The poets colorful life equipped him with vivid impressions of the ancient world…”

 Walt Chantry, Praises for the King of Kings