Signs in Life by Deanna Nowadnick

Signs in LifeNowadnick, Deanna. Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God. Monroe: Rhododendron Books, 2015. 124 pp. $12.95. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

I reviewed Deanna’s first book Fruit of My Spirit back in 2013. I recommended it to women specifically and applauded her authenticity. In Signs in Life, she is back with more refreshing authenticity.

Summary

All eleven chapters and the prologue and epilogue are based on road signs: this way, yield, school zone, no u-turn, wrong way, scenic viewpoint, etc. In each chapter, she shares an anecdote from her life (usually humorous) and shows how it points to the One who is over all.

Each chapter begins with a passage from Scripture and each chapter ends at a rest area where the reader will find a few questions for reflections.

Review

This was a fun book to read. Fun because I am pretty certain we can all relate to the many stories Deanna shares. While having fun, though, the reader will be challenged in their walk with Christ. You will be lead to reflect on your life and how the Lord has continually brought you through many trials.

In the end, this short little book may even lead you to times of meditating on the Lord when you are driving and you happen to see a “road narrows” sign and you are suddenly thinking about the narrow path that leads to salvation and then your mind wanders to losing a loved one to death or childhood struggles that the the Lord used to shape you into who you are today. That is a wonderful gift Deanna offers the reader though she may not have even realized it when she wrote it.

Recommendation

I again recommend Deanna’s work. I am sure it will resonate with you, male or female. As she continues to grow as a writer, readers will continue to be blessed.

The Works of John Flavel Volume 1

Works of FlavelFlavel, John. The Works in Six Volumes. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 568 pp. Purchase all 6 volumes at Westminster Books or Kindle for less.

Introduction

The following is adapted from an article written by Iain Murray in The Banner of Truth in 1968.

The eldest son of the Rev. Richard Flavel, John Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, about 1628, and thus spent his childhood in the stormy years which led up to the Civil War in 1642. In 1650, he entered the ministry.

Flavel’s life and work was carried on in the county of Devon, first in the country parish of Diptford and from 1656 in the thriving sea-port of Dartmouth. Through the last years of the Protectorate and until that August day in 1662 when about 120 ministers in Devon and approaching 1,800 in England as a whole were turned out of their livings for failing to comply with the terms of the Act of Uniformity, Flavel preached every week at Townstall, the mother-church which stood on the hill outside the town, and fortnightly at the Wednesday Lecture in Dartmouth.

Thereafter he took his place in the suffering ranks of the nonconformists and had a full share of the persecution which with greater or less intensity, and short intermissions, was to continue until James II fled the country in 1688.

Taking advantage of the Indulgence given by Charles II in 1672 (for which he and 163 of his congregation wrote an address of thanks to the King) Flavel obtained licence for a Nonconformist meeting-house in the town, and, when this was withdrawn, he stayed at his post until the summer of 1682 when his person was in such danger that he took ship to London on July 10.

While visiting Exeter in order to preach he died suddenly of a massive stroke on June 26, 1691, in his 64th year.

Summary

This first volume consists of a fourteen page biography of the life of John Flavel. The final five hundred plus pages is his 42-sermon series on The Fountain of Life – A Display of of Christ in His Essential and Mediatorial Glory.

Each sermon is roughly 10-12 pages long making them easy reads each day.

Review

Unlike the John Knox works, this set is written in a common to today vernacular that everyone will be able to read without much hindrance.

These 42 sermons would very much amount to a seminary class on the study of Christ as mediator. In true Puritanical fashion, Flavel seemingly leaves nothing for the reader to assume as he dives into one of the greatest subjects in the history of the world.

Throughout this work he looks at Christ as Prophet, Priest and King while also looking at His humiliation and how he prepared for His own death. John Flavel is so thorough in his treatment of this particular subject that the reader may well indeed know more about Christ as mediator than anyone else in their congregation. That is, until another reads this book.

Recommendation

I have been waiting and waiting for these works to be republished. Now that they are, I am devouring them. If you are at all interested in deep theology or even the practical outworkings of deep theology, I highly recommend this set to you. If you are wanting the best treatment on the subject of Christ as mediator, then do all you can to purchase volume 1.

Born Again by Jim Barringer

Born AgainBarringer, Jim. Born Again: Why Christianity is not What you Think. CreateSpace, 2014. 288 pp. $10.75. Purchase from Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

Jim Barringer is a husband and a father. He has his Master’s degree from South Western Seminary in “Biblical and Theological Studies”. He’s the Worship+Teaching Pastor at The Church of Life in Orlando, Fl.

Summary

In short, Barringer seeks to answer the questions why one must be born again and what should one expect when you are born again.

The first two chapters lay the foundation of the meaning of “born again” and where it originated. The third chapter explains the myth of the good person and begins to unfold the necessity of the new birth.

Chapter four details what you are saved from and the reality of your own sinfulness compared to God’s holiness. Finally, in chapter five the reader will begin to understand what changes must begin to take place and how you will seemingly be able to fulfill and live according the greatest command to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

The sixth chapter takes this one step further and shows how the second greatest commandment. Unsurprisingly, this is the largest chapter of the book. The final chapter looks at the final rebirth.

Review

I will confess I was  a bit concerned as I opened this book. In the prologue he writes, “Two things about this book make it different from any Christian book I’ve ever seen…” That is a fairly lofty standard for any book, let alone a book on such an important subject as being born again.  To be fair, he states the two reasons: interconnected themes throughout and he does not give verses but only chapters as referents to Scripture passages. I will say that the interconnectedness is nothing new but the referents to Scripture being only chapters was a first for me.

More importantly, and this is where he lives and dies, was whether or not he would write of the exclusivity of the gospel. Here is where this book begins to separate itself from other works that have been published in recent years on the subject of salvation. Jim indeed writes as one who is not as concerned with what you think about him as he is that you know that something major has happened to him.

Jim explains that the salvation he has and the salvation you need must, of necessity, come from Someone so pure and holy that it will entail a radical change in your life. While he does not get technical and use all the theological jargon, it is obvious to me that he understands all the technical theology and has the God-given ability to bring it down to a less than academic level and reach you wherever you are.

Recommendation

I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I believe you will be as well. This would make an excellent resource to give to a new believer or even an immature believer. I do recommend it to all Christians.

Fits of Tranquility by Robert Lampros

Fits of TranquilityLampros, Robert. Fits of Tranquility. CreateSpace, 2015. 52 pp. $8.99. Purchase for less at Amazon.

Introduction

Robert Lampros lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in English Lit from Washington University.

Summary/Review

This work consists of some twenty-three original works of poetry by the author. One example is the poem, Eden:

Sun, wind, and flowers

Above the dry rustling grass

A silent bird sings.

This is the shortest poem in the book but does offer a feel for the appropriately titled collection. Each poem will offer the reader something to reflect on that will lead to other meditative thoughts.

For example, think of the line, “A silent bird sings.” How in the world does a silent bird sing? Well, when you look back to the title of the particular poem, you see that it alludes to the Garden of Eden. In other words, Eden was a place that we have never experienced but can look forward to in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

All twenty-three poems are such that they cause the reader to pause. Many for what is said and some for what is not said.

Recommendation

If you enjoy poetry, you will enjoy Lampros’ first publication. The poems are short but lead to lengthy meditation. At the very least, it is worth owning on the Kindle.

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr

Marie DurandCarr, Simonetta. Christian Biographies for Young Readers – Marie Durand. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015. 64 pp. $18.00. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is back with the 9th volume in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. You can read reviews of many of her books as well as interview here.

Summary

From the back of the book:

In 1730, nineteen-year-old Marie Durand was arrested and taken from her home in a village in Southern France for the crime of having a brother who was a Protestant preacher. Imprisoned in the Tower of Constance, Marie would spend the next thirty-eight years there. Simonetta Carr introduces us to the inspiring life of a woman who could have recanted her Protestant faith and gained release, but held fast to the truth and encouraged others to do so as well. Beautiful illustrations, a simply told story, and interesting facts acquaint young readers with the challenges facing Protestants in eighteenth-century France and show them that even a life spent in prison can be lived in service to Christ and others.

Review

I honestly had never heard of Marie Durand until reading this children’s biography. Simonetta expertly tells the story of the 18th century wranglings between the Protestant and Catholic churches in France from the perspective of Marie.

Through the retelling of her life, children today will learn that faith does indeed cost and sometimes the price exacted is more than we think. In the end, God will reward one’s faith in Him as only He can.

Recommendation

As with all of the biographies in this series, I highly recommend this to all readers of any age. There are many stories to be told about God’s faithfulness in the lives of His children. Many stories have gone untold until now. The church remains indebted to Simonetta Carr for her work on this series. Pick up a copy today and you will see why.

Coffee Mug by The Banner of Truth Trust

BOT MUGCoffee mug. The Banner of Truth Trust. $12.00.

Introduction

Yes, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but this will be a legitimate review. For the record, the above picture is of the mug sitting on my well loved…ahem…coffee table with a set of books from the same publisher.

Summary/Review

From the Banner:

This premium, etched (not printed), 16 ounce coffee mug is the perfect gift for the Banner book reader. Tea could equally be enjoyed with this mug, although its hearty frame lends itself to a stronger hot beverage. Dishwasher friendly.

When I first opened the package for this mug, I was very impressed with the quality of the appearance. The etching of the logo and name is striking to the senses. I say senses because you will find yourself running your thumb over the name and the logo as well as find yourself gazing at it.

You may think I am goofy (and I probably am) but I have actually found that drinking from this mug has led me to meditate on past books I have read from the Banner.

Also, the fact that the mug is 16 oz is a huge bonus. Many coffee mugs are 8 oz and some 12, but to find a 16 oz means less times spent refilling your mug and more time reading your Bible or favorite book (from The Banner of Truth, obviously!).

Finally, holding this mug just once and you will discover that it is made from quality material. This mug will not chip easily nor will it spill down the side when drinking.

Recommendation

If you enjoy a good cup of coffee, or even tea, you will want this mug. Those who know me know I am a stickler for a good coffee mug. This is one of the best I own. I am pretty sure it will quickly become one of your favorites as well. At only $12, you cannot go wrong with this mug.

Richard John Neuhaus by Randy Boyagoda

NeuhausBoyagoda, Randy. Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square. New York: Image, 2015. 480 pp. $30.00. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Randy Boyagoda is a Canadian writer, intellectual and critic best known for his novels Governor of the Northern Province and Beggar’s Feast. He is also President of PEN Canada.

Summary

Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009) was one of the most influential figures in American public life from the Civil Rights era to the War on Terror. His writing, activism, and connections to people of power in religion, politics, and culture secured a place for himself and his ideas at the center of recent American history.

William F. Buckley, Jr. and John Kenneth Galbraith are comparable — willing controversialists and prodigious writers adept at cultivating or castigating the powerful, while advancing lively arguments for the virtues and vices of the ongoing American experiment. But unlike Buckley and Galbraith, who have always been identified with singular political positions on the right and left, respectively, Neuhaus’ life and ideas placed him at the vanguard of events and debates across the political and cultural spectrum.

For instance, alongside Abraham Heschel and Daniel Berrigan, Neuhaus co-founded Clergy Concerned About Vietnam, in 1965. Forty years later, Neuhaus was the subject of a New York Review of Books article by Garry Wills, which cast him as a Rasputin of the far right, exerting dangerous influence in both the Vatican and the Bush White House. This book looks to examine Neuhaus’s multi-faceted life and reveal to the public what made him tick and why.

Review

Having come to faith in 2001 and then joining the Southern Baptist Convention by conviction in 2003, I was not familiar with the life of Richard John Neuhaus. While I obviously would not have agreed with him much theologically, I found his political views and stances extremely thought provoking.

His transition from Lutheran to Roman Catholic made sense to me as I watched it unfold through the lens of Boyagoda. His transition from liberal to conservative, however, was not as evident to me. His propensity for social justice would have seemed to keep him a life-long liberal given his political leanings. In the end, it was obvious his theology drove his politics and not vice-versa.

I though Boyagoda did a masterful job of telling the life of this lightning rod of a theologian. He was sympathetic to the subject, Neuhaus, and allowed him to speak for himself wherever possible. In most other cases, he would let close friends speak when they could. With over forty pages of end notes, this biography is well researched in addition to being well-written.

Recommendation

If you are looking for an interesting biography to read on an influential theologian in the public square in the 20th century, then you will thoroughly enjoy this biography. It is lengthy, but a good story of a thought-provoking life takes time to tell. I recommend this biography to all.

The Works of John Knox Volume 6

Works-of-John-Knox-Volume-1Edited by David Laing. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2014. 564 pp. Purchase the 6- Volume set for $139.00 or get it on Kindle for $2.99.

Introduction

This is the final volume of the six volume The Works of John Knox. You can read the previous reviews on the individual volumes here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Ultimately, this republication in hardback is of monumental importance in the life of the Christian church, specifically in Scotland. Regardless, these six volumes are a treasure trove for the Christian today both scholar and non-scholar alike.

Summary

This final volume is full of miscellaneous letters, sermons, prayers, and even David Laing’s memoir of John Knox from 1864. David Laing was the first to translate these works and make them available to the English speaking world.

Review

What can I say that has not been said already concerning this six-volume set? Rather than review just this volume, I would like to look at the entire set as a whole. Even a cursory glance through the six volumes will show the importance of knowing church history as well as the necessity of encouraging one another in the Lord.
Furthermore, the reader will see how important it is to exhort with the gospel as well as rebuke fellow believers, as well as unbelievers, with the Scriptures. Perhaps the most striking element of these volumes is the saturation of Scripture throughout. We see Knox quoting Scripture as often as necessary and even striving to conform his own thoughts and deeds to the Word.
In the end, Knox is not without his flaws and we see some of his overreactions to various situations and such. This shows us today that though we often swing too far in one direction or another in response to current trends in the church or the culture, God still uses his saints. John Knox was one such saint that the Lord chose to use on a grand scale. Though most of us reading this review and maybe these works will never be used on such a national stage as John Knox, we all have arenas of influence in our life. May we learn from the life of John Knox to be the most effective instrument of reformation here and now wherever the Lord has us.

Recommendation

While I realize that not everyone will spend $150 on this beautifully crafted 6-volume set of the works of John Knox, I do think it is worth the $2.99 on Kindle to at least explore this man’s ministry. If, however, you are one of those who would like to better understand the Reformation in Scotland and in the church universal during the 16th century, you will do no better than this set of books. I highly recommend the series to all Christians.

Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney

Praying the BibleWhitney, Donald S. Praying the Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2015. 112 pp. $13.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for less or on Kindle.

Introduction

I have reviewed a number of books by Dr. Donald Whitney. You can read those reviews here. Specifically, you will want to read the review of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life if you are not familiar with this foundational book to his ministry – The Center for Biblical Spirituality.

Summary

Put plainly, this book will teach you pray through the Bible.  With only 85 pages of text, he moves from the problem we encounter in prayer to the solution to the method in which we can pray. He then offers examples of praying through Psalms as well as other parts of the Bible like the epistles of Paul or the prophets.

He concludes the book with examples like George Muller, Jesus on the cross, and the Christians in the book of Acts. Two appendices offer a handy “Psalms of the Day” chart as well as some instruction on praying the Bible with a group.

Review

Having sat through his class on this topic when I attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I am overjoyed that this is now in print. Like a surgeon, Whitney cuts through any and all excuses the Christian may have for not praying and shows how it is not as self-defeating as we think. Rather, he argues, it is our method.

Once he has laid that foundation, he is off to the races in sharing what he knows to be profound and true – God has given us a prayer book and we should use it. He writes with heartfelt conviction and over 30 years of experience living and praying what he preaches.

In the end, this book may take 90 minutes to read but will, if you apply the principles, radically change your life assuming you are a Christian.

Recommendation

Having experienced first hand the paradigm-shifting teachings of this book in a seminary classroom, I know the impact this book will have on Christendom. If you are a Christian and you are looking to revitalize your prayer life and have never heard about or been taught praying through the Bible, then I would recommend you pick up a copy today. Right now, even. Read it and allow the Holy Spirit to work through Don’s teaching to enable you to pray daily, regularly, and without ceasing. I can promise that if you are a believer and you apply these principles of prayer to your life, you will grow in your walk with Christ.

The Works of John Knox Volume 5

Works-of-John-Knox-Volume-1Edited by David Laing. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2014. 564 pp. Purchase the 6- Volume set for $139.00 or get it on Kindle for $2.99.

Introduction

As I continue through the works of John Knox (you can read the reviews of Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4) we come to the fifth volume. Again, we are able to witness from Knox’s own pen how he interacted with his peers as well as his countrymen.

Summary

In this volume, we are treated with a letter to John Foxe (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs) in addition to his treatise on predestination. Two other letters are included: An Epistle to the Inhabitants of Newcastle and Berwick and a Brief Exhortation to England for the Speedy Embracing of the Gospel. At the end of this volume is a list of names. These are not just any names but a list of those Christians who were martyred in England. This list is some twenty-four pages long and includes the dates on which they were martyred. These took place from 1554 through 1558 – roughly the same period these works were penned.

Review

This is the shortest volume in the set though it includes pure gold in the letter from Knox to Foxe (2 pages) as well as his treatise on predestination. Those two alone comprise some 468 of 539 pages of this volume. The letter to Foxe may be of most interest to the modern reader as Foxe is known largely today for his book of martyrs.
A special surprise awaits the reader inside the back cover of this particular volume. There are 10 different facsimile pages of Knox’s works. For example, the fourth page is part of the letter he wrote to John Foxe. What we see here is not only the strokes of Knox’s quill, but also the need for the translation that took place by David Laing in the 19th century. For the serious scholar of Knox, these would be nice framed though they will suffice to remain in the back cover just as well.

Recommendation

If you are looking for Knox’s theology on predestination, then this is the volume for you. The letter and exhortations are an added bonus. If you decide to purchase one volume of the six, I would recommend you purchase this volume.

Short, introductory reviews of Christian Books