Tag Archives: Crossway Books

Second Take: Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney

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

Prayer is talking with God, and as Christians we have the unimaginable privilege of talking with God whenever we want to because Jesus Christ has granted us access to the Father. The Holy Spirit continually moves us to pray and grants us the assurance that our Heavenly Father wants to hear from us. As those in Christ we get to experience the joy, peace, and glory that come with prayer. We get to experience the grace of answered prayer and the wonder of seeing God work in us and around us as we communicate with him.

Yet almost every Christian struggles to consistently pray. We don’t always feel like praying, and even when we do it’s easy to bore ourselves after a few minutes, to find our mind wandering, or just not know what to say after awhile. Then we get discouraged about feeling this way, begin to wonder if God really wants to hear from us, and start to think there must be something wrong in our relationship with God. Don Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote Praying the Bible to help Christians overcome this struggle and the guilt that comes with it.

Whitney maintains that the reason so many Christians get bored or discouraged when they pray is not because there is something wrong with them, but because there is something wrong with their method. We tend to pray the most about the most important things in our lives, such as our families, future, finances, work, Christians concerns such as our church or ministry involvement, and current crises in our lives. According to Whitney that is normal and good, we are called to pray about our lives, and our lives are made up of those things. The problem is not that we pray for the same old things, but that we pray for the same old things in the same old way. We pray the same things over and over, leaving us bored, frustrated, and feeling like there is something wrong.

The solution to praying the same prayers over and over is to instead pray through the Bible. You choose a passage of Scripture and “simply go through the passage line by line, talking to God about whatever comes to mind as you read the text” (33). If you don’t understand a particular verse, or nothing comes to mind when you read it, you simply move on to the next one. As you read the Word, you talk to God about everything and anything that comes to mind. Whitney explains that this works particularly well with the Psalms, which were designed to be prayed, but can work with any passage of Scripture.

The most helpful thing about Praying Through the Bible is that it doesn’t just explain and defend this method of prayer, but actually helps you do it. Chapter Seven is entitled “The Most Important Part of This Book.” In this chapter Whitney tells you to stop reading the book, pick up a Bible, and pray through a psalm, because this book won’t be of any help unless you actually apply its teachings to your life. The next chapter then helps you to evaluate your experience once you have actually done it. The book even ends with an appendix that explains how this method can be practiced in a group or at church.

As we begin a new year and commit to improving our lives, it’s an appropriate time to consider how we can pray better. Whitney’s method will help you do that. To anyone looking to strengthen his or her relationship with God, I recommend giving it a serious try.

Gary L. Shultz Jr. (Ph.D. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Fulton, MO. He also serves as Assistant Professor of Religion at Liberty University and Adjunct Professor of Theology and Church History at Baptist Bible Theological Seminary. He writes a monthly book review column for The Pathway and is the author of A Multi-Intentioned View of the Extent of the Atonement (Wipf & Stock).

ESV Family Devotional Bible

ESV Family Devotional Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2016. 1,408 pp. $29.99. Purchase at:
Westminster Books for $19.49.
Amazon for $21.97.
*Prices are subject to change.


ESV continues its growing tradition of quality niche Bibles. While I understand some argue against this concept, I have found that they are extremely helpful for various seasons in life. I have reviewed a number of ESV Bibles. You can read those reviews here.


In addition to the full text of the ESV Bible (2011 text edition), The ESV Family Devotional Bible also features 130 retellings of particular Bible stories that are not only illustrated with full-color pictures, they are gospel-centered in such a way that the one leading the devotional need only read the story and the questions. Also, the maps were formatted in such a way that they are extremely child-friendly.


While the text of the Bible is of the utmost importance, children do not always understand what is being said. Even though parents may read the text and strive to explain the story to their children, the kids still give you that deer in the headlights look. This is where the retelling of key Bible stories comes into play. I have included an example below to show you what I am talking about.

esv fdb back coverAs you can readily see, the retelling is faithful to the Biblical account and is done in such a way that the parent or leader need only read it. Next, you simply follow up with the questions provided. If you want to be more prepared, you can read the story a few times before and then provide different voices for the characters or even possibly act out some of the more familiar stories form Scripture.

If you only use the questions provided, you will do well. Typically, however, what will happen is the child will have more questions. Next thing you know, 30 minutes have passed and your family just talked about the things of God.

Finally, the “Key Verse” feature can be used in any number of ways. Some families may want to memorize these. Other families may want to make a list for future study. Still others may find them as an invaluable cross-reference (the Bible itself does not have any cross-references) to answering some of the children’s questions.

Quite frankly that is all there is to this particular niche Bible except for the kid-friendly maps of which I could not find a decent available image.


I am often asked if we need another niche Bible. In all honesty, I have waffled on this particular question. As my children have grown, we have taken turns reading the Bible out loud. We have used many resources to aid in family worship through the years. Unfortunately, our schedule is so crazy right now that we honestly struggle to carve out time for nightly family worship. We do say prayers together but we are not always in the Word together. As their father, this is my fault. Fortunately, the ESV Family Devotional Bible makes family worship extremely easy. With over 130 faithful retellings of familiar (and no so familiar) Bible stories, there is enough to kick-start a family in the direction of family worship.

If you are looking for a solid resource centered on Scripture for family worship, then I highly recommend the ESV Family Devotional Bible. The importance of having the full text of the Bible right there in your hands as you seek to raise your children in the Lord cannot be overstated.

The Pastor’s Book by R. Kent Hughes

The Pastor's BookHughes, R. Kent. The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2015. 592 pp. $45.00. Purchase at Amazon or on Kindle for much less.


Dr. R. Kent Hughes is a well-known figure in the Christian publishing world having written and edited a number of commentaries. He has also published a number of other books for Christian leaders and and laymen. He is senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois and a visiting professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hughes is also a founder of the Charles Simeon Trust, which conducts expository preaching conferences throughout North America and worldwide. He and his wife, Barbara, have four children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.


Divided into three parts, Dr. Hughes offers an in-depth look at the duties of a pastor. The first part is a manual for various Christian gatherings. The first chapter, looks at the weekly Sunday (Lord’s Day) worship service as well as annual gatherings, funerals, and weddings.

The second part dissects the worship gathering. Here, we find the importance of the public prayer, the historic Christian creeds, and the hymns and worship songs that we sing, He finally looks at the two ordinances given to the church by Christ Himself: baptism and Lord’s Supper (or communion).

The final part consists of only two chapters and explains the extent of the duties of the pastor. Specifically, he looks at counseling and hospital visitation. At the end of the book he offers wedding services from various Christian traditions as well as a recommended print resource list and even a downloadable resource list of free downloads mentioned in the book.


Wow! Where was this resource when I first started in the ministry? Dr. Hughes offers on one hand a seminary class on pastoral ministry in book form while on the other hand he is in essence sitting down over a cup of coffee with a young minister explaining to him the intricacies and expectations of the calling before him.

This book is nearly 600 pages and therefore is meant to be as close to an exhaustive guide as is practically possible. After all, he offers two tables of contents! The first is just the chapters. The second is comprised of all the subsections and is eight pages long!

He offers Scriptural support for everything the pastor does as well as some historical reasoning for why he does it. Each chapter is a how to with many examples of what has been used in the past. Ultimately, he shows that the wheel does not need to be reinvented by each pastor. Rather, you can truly stand on the shoulders of others who have gone before you.

This resource is breathtaking in scope and what it seeks to accomplish. The truth is, Dr. Hughes has accomplished his goal of offering a single resource to give to any aspiring pastor, or any pastor in the ministry regardless of age and experience, a handbook that will not leave their side. In time, I believe The Pastor’s Book will stand next to Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers and Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students as a go-to resource for all pastors.


I highly recommend this invaluable resource to all pastors. Specifically, to all those who are aspiring to be pastors. This book will be one that will be passed on for generations to come.


The Pastor’s Wife by Gloria Furman

The Pastor's WifeGloria Furman, The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2015. 160 pp. $11.99. Purchase the paperback at Westminster Books for less. Also available on Kindle.


Gloria is a pastor’s wife. Her husband is a pastor at Redeemer Church of Dubai, a church that was planted in 2008. She is also a prolific blogger and mother of 4. You can read more of her thoughts at her website.


Divided into three parts with three chapters per part, Gloria explains how to love Christ, love your husband, and love the bride of Christ; i.e., the church.

Each chapter is succinct, not much more than 14 pages and drives home a specific topic within the realm of the specific part of the book. For example, in loving Christ, she challenges women to love Christ despite all the unspoken expectations of being a pastor’s wife.

In the part on loving the pastor, her husband, she challenges the pastor’s wife to seek to do him good and not harm (obviously, this is meant to be an explanation of how to be intentional in thought, word, and deeds). In the section on loving the church she explains what the church is and how the pastor’s wife should seek to fit in as a member.


Gloria obviously loves her Lord, her husband, and her church. She also enjoys a good laugh. This combination is dangerous in the sense that she is able to tackle issues with biblical conviction and a sense of humor that not only gets her point across but also does so in a way that enables the reader to laugh at herself.

Her work is saturated with Scripture and is also offered based upon her own experiences. She offers a proverbial shoulder to cry on as well as a girlfriend to laugh with. She helps the pastor’s wife to overcome the isolation and loneliness often felt by women whose husband happens to be a leader in the local congregation.

Ultimately, she points all women to their need of Jesus Christ. She seeks to help them to see that though they are the pastor’s wife, they are as needy of God’s grace as any member. In some cases, they are more needy. Many pastor’s wives will benefit from reading this book.


I highly recommend this book for all women who find themselves married to a minister. That being said, this book is also for all women who find themselves married or wanting to be married. After all, the gospel is for every one and all men are called to lead their families spiritually.

ESV Men’s Devotional Bible

ESV Men's Devotional BibleESV Men’s Devotional Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2015. 1616 pp. $34.99. Purchase at Westminster Book for less or on Kindle for under $10.00.


From the dust jacket:

Our world presents daily distractions that can easily displace Christ as the center of a man’s heart and life. The goal of the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is to strengthen and encourage men through the life-giving Word of God and sound devotional content aimed at nurturing godliness.

With 365 theologically rich and gospel-centered devotions drawn directly from the Bible, this all-new resource was created under the editorial oversight of Dr. Sam Storms with contributions from over fifty Christian leaders. Introductions orient men to each book of the Bible, exploring its unique contribution to a man’s walk with God. Thoughtful and instructive articles address the importance of sound doctrine, life in the local church, leadership, the heart, calling, and a host of other relevant issues for today.

The Men’s Devotional Bible will strengthen men in their walk with Christ, helping them apply the gospel and the truth of God’s Word in their homes, churches, and workplaces.


Sam Storms serves as the general editor of this devotional Bible. The primary difference between this particular Bible and a Bible with only the text is the daily devotionals interspersed throughout the text.

I have reviewed a few of Crossway’s various ESV Bibles and have found them all to be worthwhile resources in addition to the actual text of the Bible. What sets this Bible apart from others is that it is not a study Bible. Rather, it is the complete text of the Bible that includes a daily devotional that is rooted in the surrounding text.

In other words, instead of having two books on your nightstand or desk (one a Bible and the other a devotional), you have only one that includes both. Furthermore, instead of most devotionals that are based on a phrase or two of Scripture followed by a page of the devotional writer’s meditation, these devotionals are based on chapters or large sections of Scripture and are obviously meant to be a servant to the text rather than the replacing of the Word of God. This is an important distinction that I fear is often lost in today’s publishing world of numerous devotionals.

There are two elements that would have made the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible absolutely perfect. First, a simply yearly reading plan to follow. While these are readily found almost anywhere these days, there is not one included in this particular Bible.

Second, and this could have been accomplished with or without the reading plan, would have been to include the devotionals within the context of a daily reading plan. I realize, however, that this would have been difficult given the layout of the daily devotionals as near the featured text as possible. In other words, not every devotional will be in conjunction with the day’s reading according to even a generic canonical reading plan.


Regardless of the two “negatives” this is one of the best devotionals I have come across. It serves the purpose of getting the Bible in the hands of men while engaging them with problems and biblical truths that are needed in today’s culture seemingly more than ever.

I highly recommend the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible to all men as it will afford them the opportunity to learn from godly men on a daily basis.


The Immigration Crisis by James K. Hoffmeier

Purchase this book at Amazon for $10.19Hoffmeier, James K. The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 174 pp. $14.99. Purchase at Amazon for $10.19.

Note: I originally published this review on 17 June 2009. I am republishing it now due to the Syrian refugee crisis that is dividing the land. I have reread this work in the last few days and have found it to be of great benefit as I personally try to understand the current issues and offer biblical counsel on what we are to do.

I recently wrote a review on Ancient Word, Changing Worlds where the authors showed the importance of the doctrine of Scripture throughout history. In that book, they argue that the Bible is written for all people in all times. This has wide ranging implications for just about everything in our lives today.

One implication would include the issue of immigrants in America—legal and illegal. This issue has become the center for many political campaigns. So too, many political pundits are discussing the pros and cons on television and radio. In The Immigration Crisis James K. Hoffmeier, professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern archaeology at Trinity International University, uses careful exegesis and hermeneutics to show how the Bible speaks to this “lightning rod” issue today.

Looking primarily at the Old Testament, Dr. Hoffmeier writes of how Isaac and Jacob were treated while living in foreign lands. He then details how the Israelites were aliens in a foreign land (Egypt) and how the Law instructed them to treat aliens and immigrants once they settled in the land God had given them.

He then takes a look at what Christ said regarding aliens—“I was a stranger and you invited me in.” He explains what Paul means when he calls Christians aliens of this world in Ephesians. The last chapter explains how all of this applies to us today and how we should approach the issues of immigration today.


I must confess that I really have not given much thought to the issue of immigration in America except to know that it has become fodder for talk show hosts and politicians seeking office. After reading this book, I have come to understand the issue of immigration through a biblical lens. For that, I am indebted to Dr. Hoffmeier.

What is more, Dr. Hoffmeier does not write as a mere scholar looking to add his two cents to a hot-button issue. Rather, he is writing from the experience of a war refugee and an alien in two different countries. He has been a sojourner in a foreign land and understands what that feels like.

While you may not agree with all of his exegesis, Dr. Hoffmeier will certainly help you think through some critical issues while maintaining a biblical worldview on the issue. If you live in a region of the United States where the topic of immigrants is prevalent, then this book is a must read. If you would simply like to better understand what the Bible says about this issue, then this is certainly the place you start your research. This is a timely book in an era when the world continues to shrink with the advancement of travel and the Internet.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Experiencing the New Birth by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Experiencing the New BirthLloyd-Jones, Martyn. Experiencing the New Birth – Studies in John 3. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2015. 400 pp. $30.00. Purchase in print at Westminster books for less or on Kindle for $9.59.


I have reviewed a number of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ works published by Crossway Books in the last few years. You can read those reviews here as well as a number of other notifications and news.  Also, one of my personal highlights was my interview with Jonathan Catherwood, MLJ’s grandson.


Experiencing the New Birth is a compilation of Lloyd-Jones’ twenty-four sermons from John 3:1-30 preached at Westminster Chapel from 9 January – 10 July 1966. Until  now, as I understand it, these sermons have yet to appear in print though they are available at the MLJ Trust.

These sermons are fairly straight-forward and hit home as most all of the Doctor’s sermons do. His exposition of this most familiar passage in the gospel of John brings a strange newness to the passage. It is remarkable how a sermon from nearly fifty years ago still speaks to the Christian today.

Further, after having read these sermons, the Christian will challenged by the black/white theology of the apostle John in that you are either a new Christian or you are not. You are either Nicodemus…a man full of knowledge but not Christ or you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ.

This work is meant to be read one chapter at a time as they were preached one sermon at a time. To that end, these twenty-four chapters serve as a devotional meant to be meditated on and applied by the Christian. Of course, you will not agree with everything ML-J writes, but the reality is you will be confronted with a great God who through His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ, is completely sovereign over your life.


Add this to your library. Read it. Devour it and chew on it. We are indebted to Crossway Books for bringing to print these sermons for the modern Christian today.

Why We Pray by William Philip

Why We PrayPhilip, William. Why We Pray. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2015. 112 pp. $11.99. Purchase at Westminster for less as well as on Kindle.


William Philip has been senior minister of St. George’s-Tron Church in Glasgow, Scotland, since 2004. He was formerly director of ministry at the Proclamation Trust in London and is now chairman of Cornhill Scotland, an organization committed to training pastors for expository preaching. Prior to ordination, he was a doctor specializing in cardiology.

In other words, he appears to be a modern day Martyn Lloyd-Jones!


This 112 page book is divided into four chapters all dealing with a different reason as to why we pray. The first is God is a speaking God. The second is because we are sons of God. The third is because God is a sovereign God and the fourth is because we have the Spirit of God.

At the end of each chapter is a list of questions that are meant for deeper thought or for a discussion group.


At only 112 pages and four chapters Why We Pray may be one of the quickest reads on this most important aspect of the Christian Life I have read to date. Granted, there are a number of articles and such, but this little book is full of biblical insight centered on who God is and what He has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is quite frankly because of who God is that leads us to be able to pray confidently knowing that He not only hears our prayers but He will answer them as well.

Philip deftly deals with certain questions (why pray if God knows what is going to happen) though he readily admits he is not dealing with them exhaustively. His intention in writing this book is to give the reader confidence to pray. Therefore, he does not belabor his points nor does he offer systematic theologies on various doctrinal concerns. This is done, in my estimation, in order to quickly introduce the reader to the necessity and joys of prayer and to gently give them a little nudge to begin praying.

I believe the brevity and succinctness of Why We Pray is its greatest strength. Along with that is the apparent high view of God the author has as he extols His greatness page after page.


There are a number of books on prayer. Why We Pray deserves your attention because it is short, succinct, powerful, and full of conviction and joy as the author happily explains that the greatest reason to pray is the truth that you get to talk directly to the Creator of the universe. I highly recommend this resource to all Christians.

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper

Seeing and Savoring Jesus ChristPiper, John. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2001. 142 pp. $9.99. Purchase at Westminster for less or on Kindle.


Note: I read and am reviewing the 2001 edition. What is pictured and linked to is the 2004 revised edition which is a paperback.

John Piper needs no introduction. For those that have never heard of please check out his ministry’s website, Desiring God. You can get most every book they have free in PDF as well as all of his sermons and podcasts.


Divided into thirteen chapters, Piper takes the reader on a journey from understanding the ultimate aim of Jesus to nuggets of truth as to what what Jesus came to do. Along the way, you will learn the deity and excellence of Christ while also considering His power and wisdom.

As Piper brings the reader to the apex of the joy of Christ, he also shows us the glory of Christ as he helps you to consider the anguish and saving sacrifice of Jesus. He concludes with meditation on Christ’s resurrection and His promised Second Coming.


I read this book because in a recent podcast, John Piper stated that if he were to recommend any one book of his to read first it would Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. That caught me by surprise a bit. I had read this years ago when I first came to Christ but had it sitting on my shelf collecting dust. I decided to reread it and now understand why Piper says he himself rereads this book often.

Each chapter is short and can be read devotionally or, quite honestly in one night. I chose to read the book in the morning after my daily Scripture reading. My discovery was that it quickened my heart to the things of God in such a concerted effort that I could not help but meditate on Christ throughout the day.

Each chapter was saturated with Scripture and every chapter ended with a concerted prayer in to help one converse with God. I usually do not read these prayers as I find it often difficult to pray someone else’s prayer, but these were different. I found the prayers to be a spring board to deeper communion with God.


It would be easy to say that if Piper recommends this book, I recommend this book. Too be honest, it was because he stated that he rereads this book often to be reminded of Christ’s glories. If John Piper needs a reminder, then so do I, and I think I can safely assume, so do you. Please get yourself a copy and read and reread this quality devotional that will draw you to Christ.