Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory Edited by Michael A.G. Haykin

Joy Unspeakable and full of gloryJoy Unspeakable and Full of Glory: The Piety of Samuel and Sarah Pearce. Edited by Michael A.G. Haykin. Ontario: Joshua Press, 2012. 248 pp. $21.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

The Classics of Reformed Spirituality series is a series designed to provide choice selections from various Reformed writers, rich in spiritual nourishment, to stir deeper insight into the Bible and to cultivate a greater desire to seek after Christ’s glory and blessed presence. The series is edited by Michael A.G. Haykin.

Summary

Samuel Pearce, a young eighteenth-century English pastor, was described by his friend and biographer Andrew Fuller as “another Brainerd”—a reference to the celebrated American missionary David Brainerd. Pastor of Cannon Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, England, during the tumultuous 1790s, and a close friend of pioneer missionary William Carey, Pearce played a key role in the early days of the Baptist Missionary Society. In the providence of God he died at just thirty-three, but in the eyes of many of his contemporaries, he seemed to have condensed a lifetime of holy and joyful ministry into a single decade.

His marriage to Sarah Hopkins was one of deep love and mutual respect, and she joined him in his passion for the salvation of sinners—both at home and abroad. Through excerpts from Samuel and Sarah’s letters and writings, we are given a window into their rich spiritual life and living piety.

Review

With the 42-page biography of Samuel and Sarah Pearce beginning the work, the reader is introduced to a largely forgotten, though very influential man of God in his life time. By looking at the chronology of his life, we quickly understand how much he accomplished in his short 33-years on this earth.

Where the work really strikes a chord is in the selections from his letters and writings which comprise the majority of the book. Here we see that his flame burned brightest for Christ and His church but also for his beloved bride, Sarah. Further, we read of Sarah’s devotion to the same.

Though there is a slight language barrier for today’s reader, one quickly adapts to the writings and finds himself immersed in the life of Samuel Pearce from his own perspective through his pen. Though most would not know much about the wives of the great men of history, Haykin has done a huge favor for the church today by including her own correspondence because she was “deeply interested in all that interested” her husband.

These letters will take you to another place and time though they spring from a love and passion for the timeless truths as found in the Word of God.

Recommendation

If you are not familiar with Samuel Pearce, I highly recommend you begin with this work. Unfortunately, not many will read this because he has largely been forgotten. To read Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory is to peer through the corridors of time and see what a genuine Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated piety looked like.

Seven Last Words by Terry Minchow-Proffitt

Seven Last WordsMinchow-Proffitt, Terry. Seven Last Words. West Union: Middle Island Press, 2015. 64 pp. $15.00. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Terry Minchow-Proffitt is a retired pastor who lives in St. Louis, Missouri. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Arkansas Review, Big Muddy, Christian Century, decomP magazine, Deep South Magazine, Desert Call, Freshwater, Hash, Mud Season Review, OVS Magazine, Oxford Magazine, Penwood Review, Pisgah Review, Prick of the Spindle, St. Ann’s Review, Tower Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Wild Violet, Words and Images Journal and The Write Room.

Summary

Christ’s final words from the cross—the seven sayings from the Gospels—have a compelling resonance. They have been pondered anew throughout the millennia by Christians and non-Christians alike the world over. Forged within the crucible of suffering, they have the capacity to awaken, to transform our way of beholding God and one another. In Seven Last Words, poet and pastor Terry Minchow-Proffitt gives us seven poems based on these sayings, along with an in-depth interview with Mud Season Review. With brevity that begs to be savored, Seven Last Words renders a powerful portal into the love that continues to radiate during the darkest of times.

Review

We are quick to shy away from the humanity of Jesus especially when we are discussing His Passion Week and the consequent crucifixion that saved the redeemed from sin and reconciled them to God the Father. Terry offers us a poetic perspective that helps to bring the reality of the humanity of Jesus Christ to the fore while all the while we are aware that He is indeed the Son of God sent to take away the sin of the world.

There is obvious talent and meditation in these poems. Terry has blessed us with sharing his gift in this publication. As with all works of poetry, we must understand that creative license is used freely. That does not take away, however, from the meditative qualities of the work of the poet.

In the end, Terry helps us to look at a unique facet of what Christ said on the cross. In so doing, we are able to see as if for the first time the agony he faced.

Recommendation

If you are into poetry, you will enjoy this work. The interview included at the end is more a bonus and “page-filler” in my estimation. Regardless, it is worth owning and reading around Easter.

Rid of My Disgrace Small Group Discussion Guide

Rid of My Disgrace SGRid of My Disgrace Small Group Discussion Guide. Justin S. Holcomb, Lindsey A. Holcomb, and Stephanie R. Hurter. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2015. 96 pp. $14.99. Get if for less at Westminster Books.

Introduction

Back in 2011, Crossway released a book entitled Rid of My Disgrace which dealt with victims of sexual assault. I reviewed that book and would highly recommend you read that review before continuing reading this review.

Summary/Review

This study guide is designed to be an 8-week course in a group setting. The aforementioned book will be needed as the weekly readings will come directly from there.

The first week looks at Disgrace followed by weeks focused on grace, denial, self-image, shame, guilt, anger and fear, and hope. By the end of the study, the participant will be brought face to face with the necessity of the gospel over and over.

Sexual assault is becoming more and more a reality in our porn-saturated culture today. Many churches are not equipped to deal with these situations. Thankfully, Crossway and New Growth Press as well as the Holcomb’s and Stephanie Hurter have written this study guide that is pointed and full of love and compassion for the hurting.

The participant will answer a number of questions from the reading and will be assigned a journaling topic along with a suggested Scripture to memorize. Then, during the support group or group study time, there are guidelines to follow and Scripture to discuss in addition to the times of meditation to cultivate in a group setting in order to bring it home for personal meditations.

This study is designed to encourage genuine gospel healing for victims of sexual assault. It is centered squarely on the participant’s need of Christ and grace. It is not, however, centered on the participant. Rather, the author’s recognize the problem that the participant has dealt with and helps them to focus outward on Christ and others, as commanded in Scripture, rather than internally and spiraling down into depression or worse.

Recommendation

If you are looking for a resource to minister to victims of sexual assault or are in need of ministering as a victim of sexual assault (first, contact your pastor or another trusted Christian!) then  you have found your resource. I recommend this resource to all pastors to have on hand and ready to use. This may be a ministry that is desperately needed in your congregation or community and you are not aware of it. Read the book and equip yourself to become more aware.

 

thE unannOunCed cHristmas visitor by Patrick Higgins

The Unannounced Christmas VisitorHiggins, Patrick. The Unannounced Christmas Visitor. For His Glory Publication, 2014. 170 pp. $11.95. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Patrick Higgins was the author, “A Grateful Believer” behind The Pelican Trees I reviewed back in 2011. He has also written Coffee in Manila. You can find out more about him and his writing ministry at his website, For His Glory Production.

Summary

From their website:

This story was partly inspired by a Christ-based feeding ministry in Orlando, Florida, but mostly inspired by Hebrews 13:2, which states, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

What if angels really did come from the most unlikely of places? That’s exactly what happens in this heartwarming story, set in a homeless community in Anywhere USA. Sent to Planet Earth by his Maker, disguised as a homeless person, Enoch was on a mission: to rescue a man whose life was slowly but steadily spiraling out of control.

Up until seven months ago, John Jensen was a responsible, churchgoing, happily married man and father of two. Then the slow fade began and John went from living life passionately to questioning everything he once thought important, deeming much of it utterly meaningless.

The only place his wife, Lydia, could go to escape her ongoing marital struggles was the church she attended the past seventeen years. But even there it seemed her desperate cries to God for help always went unanswered. That is, until Enoch appeared one Sunday morning, hair unkempt, wearing ragged clothing.

To Lydia’s great dismay, the old man was mocked and ridiculed by so many of her fellow believers, ultimately banished to the last row of the sanctuary simply because of his untidy appearance. One week later, after church service, Lydia and her two children, Matthew and Grace, spotted the old man walking to the city park where he lived among many other homeless people.

Later that night, Lydia felt God’s strong urging to introduce herself to the man she still did not know had been sent as her Christmas miracle. In the days following her first visit to the homeless community in which the old man served as spiritual mentor, Lydia and her two children learned more about what it means to be true servants of God than she did in seventeen years at her church.

But with John Jensen being Enoch’s chief reason for coming to Planet Earth, would the severely depressed, apathetic man submit to the pulling of God’s Holy Spirit, or was he already too far gone to be rescued?

Review

It is obvious to those who have read Higgins’ previous two books, he has matured as a writer with this novel. His style is very straight-forward and his clarion call for the plight of the homeless is needed today.

On one hand, we are all captivated by a story of those helping the less-fortunate. More often than not, this is because we can easily see ourselves as the hero in the story. Patrick shows, however, that it is usually when seek to serve others we wind up finding the answers needed in our own difficulties in life.

The story is real to life and will speak to many men and women suffering through life and not looking to Christ as their all in all. The prospect of having entertained angels is always of interest to us, but we ought to be more reticent to help those in need because of what our Lord ans Savior said in Matthew 25:31-46.

Perhaps the greatest negative is found in the last paragraph of the description; “…Would the severely depressed, apathetic man submit to the pulling of God’s Holy Spirit, or was he already too far gone to be rescued.” Look, if God is calling you to salvation, you will come. Passages like John 6:37, 39 clearly indicate this biblical truth.

The problematic premise to all of this is the deification of free-will. That being said, from a human perspective the story plays out as though this is the question that we all must answer. The biblical truth is found in another passage in Hebrews, this time in chapter 3, the 13th verse: “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Recommendation

Despite the criticism, I can commend this book to the readers. If you would like a heart-touching story that speaks to a prevalent need today, The Unannounced Christmas Visitor will be worth your time.

The Evidence Bible edited by Ray Comfort

The Evidence BibleThe Evidence Bible (NKJV). Edited by Ray Comfort.  Alachua: Bridge-Logos 1,960 pp. $59.99. Purchase at Amazon for less. Also, there are different bindings and covers that are even less expensive than the one pictured.

Introduction

Readers of this review site will be very familiar with Ray Comfort as I have reviewed a number of his books and documentaries and even had the pleasure of interviewing him. You can find all of those articles here.

Summary

Ray has used the New King James Version translation as the basis for this particular “study Bible.” What sets this particular Bible apart from others is the (almost) countless helps for evangelism, open-air preaching, and apologetics found on nearly every page throughout the Bible.

You can watch this promotional video for more information:

Review

Though I am not as much of an open-air preacher as I am one-on-one, this resource is an excellent starting point for the new Christian with questions that he or she is unable to answer. Furthermore, this resource is a one-stop shop so to speak for those who do like to discuss their faith but are unable to answer specific questions from unbelieving family and friends.

The table of contents page is listed topically and alphabetically for quick reference. The contents are further divided into apologetics  and common questions and objections. The apologetics section includes such as evolution/creation, training children, religion (think world religions) and evangelism aids all of which are concise and powerful suggestions for getting beyond the debate quickly.

The common questions and objections are divided into doctrinal and practical categories.From God and Jesus to Sin, the Bible and Excuses. This section has specific Bible references for the student to be able to study and become familiar with in order to keep the conversation centered on Scripture.

Recommendation

In the end, this is a well-written and well-organized resource that I wish I had when I first became a Christian. Now, years later, I have found that I would have saved a ton of time and money by having this one resource! The Evidence Bible is a must own study Bible for high school and college students and any Christian who intends to be vocal about their faith (which should be every Christian!).  I highly commend it to you.

The Works of John Knox Volume 3

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

I have reviewed the first two volumes which look at the history of the Reformation in Scotland here. This third volume begins what I would call the works of Knox insofar as his preaching and writing ministry is concerned.

Summary

Following is the table of contents of Volume 3 of this 6-volume set:

  • An Epistle to the Congregation of the Castle of St. Andrews, with a Brief Summary of Balnaves on Justification by Faith, 1548
  • A Vindication of the Doctrine that the Sacrifice of the Mass Is Idolatry, 1550
  • A Summary, According to the Holy Scriptures, of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, 1550
  • A Declaration of the True Nature and Object of Prayer, 1553
  • A Confession or Prayer on the Death of Edward VI
    An Exposition upon the Sixth Psalm of David, Addressed to Mrs Bowes, 1554 (A Fort for the Afflicted)
  • A Godly Letter of Warning, or Admonition to the Faithful in London, Newcastle, and Berwick, 1554
  • Certain Questions concerning Obedience to the Lawful Magistrates, with Answers by Henry Bullinger, 1554
  • Two Comfortable Epistles to His Afflicted Brethren in England, 1554
  • A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth in England, 1554
  • Epistles to Mrs Elizabeth Bowes, and her Daughter Marjory, 1553–1554
  • Appendix: Biographical Notices and Letters of Henry Balnaves of Halhill, A Treatise by Balnaves on Justification by Faith, revised by Knox in 1548

Review

As can be seen by the dates listed, these are arranged in chronological order (as is the rest of the volumes) rather than topically. This is beneficial to the reader and the historian as we can trace the development (dare I say evolution) of Knox’s thoughts on practical theology and see how he helped to direct the Reformation in Scotland, specifically from 1548 until his death in 1572.

It must be noted that the writing has not been adapted for the modern reader and therefore presents quite a challenge especially if you are not familiar with the style of English.  For example, here is the following in modern English compared to the original style used by Knox:

“A Comfortable Epistle Sent to the Afflicted Church of Christ, Exhorting them to Bear His Cross with Patience.”

“A Comfortable Epistell Sente to the Afflicted Church of Chryst, Exhortying them to Beare Hys Crosse Wyth Pacience.”

One can see how this is a barrier that will need to be overcome by the reader. I promise, however, that it worth striving to read these works. In the providence of God this will ultimately force the reader to slow down and immerse himself in Knox’s writings.

Recommendation

As I have said before, this series will not be for everyone. For those who have an interest in Scottish history, however, this is indispensable set. The language barrier is a negative for many, but, as I stated above, is well worth the time and effort. I am enjoying the fiery Knox in his own words as I continue to read through this set and I believe you will as well.

Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Logic on FireLogic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Produced by Media Gratiae. Purchase at The Banner of Truth Trust for $39.95.

Introduction

It is not secret that I am a huge fan of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) and was thrilled to see this documentary come to fruition. You can read my reviews of a number of books that have been published from the pen of The Doctor here. Also, look for the interview with his grandson, Jonathan, from 2010. You can find out more about this project at Logic on Fire.

Summary

Instead of summarizing the video, check out this video for an excellent introduction to the documentary.

Review

Having read the various biographies of ML-J, I found the allure of this one hour and forty-two minute documentary centered on the various anecdotes from those that knew him personally as well as those who have been greatly influenced by his ministry.

The greatness of his ministry lives on in his many books which were in essence transcripts of his sermons preached during his gospel ministry. This documentary introduces the new reader of ML-J to the man behind all those books. The viewer will get to know him through the eyes of family and friends who lived with him. It is refreshing for the veneer to peel away and see the essence of the man. With ML-J it was a genuine passion and love for Jesus Christ and sound biblical doctrine preached from the pulpit.

Recommendation

Every young pastor should watch this documentary. The fire for preaching exuding from the life of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is contagious. I pray that it catches many pulpits, churches, and Christians on fire for the proclamation of the gospel and biblical truths the world over. I cannot recommend this work highly enough.

 

 

Jesus Swagger by Jarrid Wilson

Jesus SwaggerWilson, Jarrid. Jesus Swagger: break Free from Poser Christianity. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2015. 208 pp. $16.99. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Jarrid Wilson serves as the Next Gen pastor at LifePoint Church in Smyrna, TN. You can also read more from his pen at his blog.

Summary

Divided into seven chapters with an introduction and conclusion, Wilson seeks to help the reader understand the reality of the difference between a spoken faith and a real faith. The first chapter defines “Poser Christianity” while chapter two simply calls for stopping the epidemic of this phony Christianity.

Chapter three begins to lay the foundation for dealing with what used to be called a cultural Christianity and begins to explore topics like loving without limits and a church without walls. The fifth chapter speaks to the necessity of being a full-time disciple of Jesus as opposed to the Sunday-only Christianity so many today are accustomed to today.

Chapter six transitions to the reader’s role as being the change while chapters seven and eight summarize the reality that Christianity cannot be half-hearted. I especially like the title of the final chapter: “Jesus is not your homeboy.”

Review

Quite honestly, I did not know what to really expect from this book. Given the title, I figured it would be a “fresh” approach to the necessity of regenerate church membership and truly being born again over and above the spoken faith so many claim today. On one hand, I was pleasantly surprised. On the other hand, I found what I figured I would find.

Jarrid Wilson is  a millennial writing to millennials (that is those born between the years of 1980-2000) concerning their need to embrace a holistic (poor choice of words?) Christianity that is rooted in the Biblical truths. This is important for the reader to understand as this flavors his style of writing and the way in which he seeks to get his message across.

I was pleasantly surprised to read so much Scripture throughout the book. In other words, he did root his concern in the Word of God and used that as his springboard to challenge Christians of all generations. I am not, however, a fan of using a bunch of different translations though I understand how one might get across the point a little bit better than another.

I did find, however, that there was more leaning on the author’s personality which I felt led to more Swagger than Jesus throughout the entirety of the book. This is becoming more common today where millennials are more attracted to personality and worship styles than they are the gospel and the edification from the preaching of the Word.

Recommendation

In the end, I can recommend this work to the discerning reader. For starters, Jarrid understands this generation because he is a member and God has given him a platform from which to speak to this generation. Unfortunately, it is easy to lose the soberness of the gospel in the glitz and glamour of the swagger. If you are a youth pastor or a pastor focusing on the 25-45 demographic, you will probably want to read this to glean some insight.

Serfing America by Sue Ann Thielke & Roger Ball

Serfing AmericaThielke, Sue Ann, Roger Ball. Serfing America: The Progressive Destruction of the American Dream. CreateSpace Publishers, 2014. 242 pp. $9.98. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Sue is a co-founder of Framework Productions, a company that seeks to publish “works that foster, encourage, promote, edify and educate the world from a perspective built on a Biblical Worldview.” Roger Ball currently serves as pastor of Freedom Church in Vero Beach, FL.  Sue is a member of Chuck Colosn’s Centurions Entrepreneurial Discipleship Training Program.

Summary

Divided into 12 chapters over 200 plus pages, Sue and Roger introduce the American experiment and show how a progressive agenda has corrupted what we know as the American Dream. They define a Progressive as a Liberal with a new name.

Throughout they show what the Progressive game plan is, how they have attacked the country at it’s moral roots. Chapter seven offers the real hope of America – Jesus Christ. From here on, they offer some practical suggestions concerning what we can do now. Specifically, what the church’s role ought to be in the return to founder’s hopes of the American Experiment. In the end, they argue that the hope is found in a genuine Christian revival and an American renewal.

Review

While I do not typically like to wade into the political waters, especially on this website or social media, I found this work to be well researched and very Christ-centered. Sure, there is political talk and finger pointing, but they do so in order to juxtapose what is going on now as compared to the original vision for America.

They do not necessarily call out one particular political party though, as it is currently situated, the party we know as the Democrats are largely in their cross hairs. They do not, however, give a free pass to Republicans or any other political faction.

Perhaps what makes this book so worth reading is their understanding that while the Christ as revealed in Holy Writ is our savior and Lord, we must also seek to cultivate a worldview consistent with His revealed will. We must always remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood, that is, not against Democrats, Republicans, or Muslims or anyone else. Rather, our battle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

This is a battle for the souls of man. This is a battle for the minds of men.  We have the Lord of Hosts on our side. On the other side is a defeated foe who is on a short leash.

Recommendation

I am grateful to Sue and Roger for publishing this book. I am grateful for their willingness to step out of line and speak against what is transpiring right before our eyes. I pray more Christians read this. I pray the call to action is heeded. I highly recommend this well-researched resource.

The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson

The BeatitudesWatson, Thomas. The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-10. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2014. 352 pp. $27.00. Purchase at Westminster for less or for Kindle for $0.99.

Introduction

This work was first published in 1660. It was first republished by the Banner of Truth Trust in 1971 and has since been reprinted seven times leading up to this edition which has been re-typeset. Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686) wrote a number of books invaluable to the 21st century Christian as they were to the 17th century Christian.

I have reviewed one of his Puritan Paperbacks, All Things for Good, from the Banner a number of years ago.

Summary

Divided into twenty-two chapters, Watson exegetes each beatitude exhaustively. The first three chapters are merely introductory material to the beatitudes themselves.Chapter four and five look at the first beatitude, “blessed are the poor in spirit” while six through eleven look at the the second.

Only one chapter discusses the meek Christian and two chapters deal with spiritual hunger. A lengthy chapter fifteen looks at what it means to be merciful. Sixteen and seventeen look at the pure in heart while eighteen through twenty look at peacemakers and the children of God.

Chapter 21 concludes with a discussion on persecution while chapter twenty-two serves as an appendix.

Review

Wow! That may be all I need to say about this resource. While most books on the beatitudes consist primarily of eight chapters (one per beatitude), Watson leaves no stone unearthed in his treatment of these glorious foundational truths of the Christian life.

Even though he published this work nearly 400 years ago, his work applies to the Christian still today. Perhaps a case could be made that this is true even more today given our current culture. Whereas Watson was fighting a theological battle between the Protestant and Catholic churches, the church today is fighting not only within herself due largely to a watered down message but also with a culture that no longer believes in God as Creator, sustainer, and savior of life.

For the Christian today, we must gird up our loins and prepare for the eventual onslaught against individuals in addition to the church. Watson’s work on the Beatitudes will help today’s Christian to stand firm on the foundation of the hope in Christ. As I read and re-read Watson’s words, I was taken to a deeper understanding of the importance of these eight truths as foundational to the Christian life.

Recommendation

To read Watson is to read a surgeon of both the Scriptures and your own soul. While you can purchase the Kindle edition, I would recommend this one largely in print as it will be one of those resources you want to hold in your hands and write in and underline and be able to hand off to another (and hope you get it back!) to read and introduce them to the riches of the Word of God. I highly commend this book to you.

 

Short, introductory reviews of Christian Books