Saturday, October 20, 2018

Book Review: Depression, Anxiety and the Christian Life, Introduction by J.I. Packer, Notes by Michael S. Lundy

There has been numerous books written on depression from a Christian perspective, some good, some outstanding.  Depression, Anxiety and the Christian Life: Practical Wisdom from Richard Baxter Introduction by J.I. Packer, Notes by Michael S. Lundy is one of the outstanding works. Within its pages the reader will find a wealth of practical wisdom dealing with depression and anxiety from the pen of Richard Baxter.

The preface and first chapter are authored by Packer (doesn't get any better, right?). Packer offers a definition of depression, such as one can be given, and advocates for modern day readers to take another look at Richard Baxter (1615-1691) as his wisdom and advice still apply today.

Packer authors a brief biography of Baxter in chapter 1. It focuses on why we should look to Baxter for help in this area. Baxter was fully acquainted with depression which he saw much of in his flock during his time as a pastor. A prolific author, he wrote often on the subject of depression in various
works.

In chapter two co-author Dr. Lundy brings a modern day touch to the subject as well as bringing to light Baxter's counsel and why it still applies today.

Part two of the book delves into Baxter's advice to the depressed and anxious. Taken from three different works, updated and annotated for modern readers, they still retain the flavor of Baxter's authorship.

What stood out to me was how Baxter's advice was so practical. Far from a stoic and analytical appraisal of the issues, his counsel is a no nonsense approach with a Biblical foundation. Baxter had years of experience  dealing with the anxious and depressed. Combined with his deep understanding of Scripture has made him a viable source for counsel on these matters. Not only for the suffers, but for those who are attempting them through their suffering.

It is true that nothing changes under the sun. Baxter's counsel is as wise, comforting and as Biblical as when it was written in the 17th century.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book Review: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert


When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert  is a book I set my sites on some time ago but thinking it may be a load of tosh I put off reading it. That is, until I received a verbal recommendation from a trusted relative I then decided it was time to dig in. As it turns out it is not a load of rubbish but rather a well thought out analysis of how we as individual Christians, churches, and parachurch organizations have failed, often miserably, at assisting the poor and alleviating poverty and how to address these issues.

From the back cover we learn what we can expect from the book


  • Foundation Concepts – Who are the poor?
  • Principles – Should we do relief, rehabilitation or development?
  • Strategies – How can we help people here and abroad?

And that is the thrust of the work.  These three points are fleshed out by the authors.

The book begins with a short history of how we, primarily North American Christians, got to where we are now. What happened between 1900 and 1930 that changed how we address poverty alleviation and why we are failing miserably at addressing it? Why is a Biblical world view important to the methodology of helping the poor?

Next we find out what the poor think of our efforts to help them. Its entirely possible we fail as we have no clue how other cultures, even sub-cultures within our own culture, think emotionally and politically of their plight. Failure to recognize these distinctions cause our failures in assisting the poor and therefore our evangelism. From our North American point of view are we really helping the poor or just making ourselves feel better by thinking we have? Poverty is rooted in broken relationships, with God and each other, not in financial or material wealth. Only Jesus can fix that.

In chapter 4 we begin to get into the real meat of the work. Help comes in three forms according to the authors: Relief, rehabilitation, and development. Failure to recognize these three and implement them as needed or in correct order can do more harm than good. Many churches and organizations, for example, start and stop with relief. That is, providing immediate help for a need. Though necessary it falls short of providing for the long term needs of the person or persons in need. The authors flesh this out clearly and define what steps, relief, rehabilitation, and development, to take at appropriate times.

Of chapter 7 I took special note. Short term mission trips (STM) have always left me wondering how effective they can be. How can a group of people who blow into town for only a week or two expect to provide any long lasting good? Indeed, they can be helpful as the authors explain however they are often not for several reasons the authors lay out. If only relief is provided the STM is doomed to failure. Development is often what is needed and that can’t be done in a two week STM. In helping the poor we must be in it for the long haul by helping the local churches and organizations in the area as necessary.

The authors continue and conclude with concrete strategies to help the poor in numerous ways and especially spiritually. The issue is often, "Finding armies of people to volunteer one Saturday to paint dilapidated houses is easy. Finding people to love the people who live in those houses is extremely difficult" (pg. 210). We must take the time to walk and love these folks for the long term. Are you ready? Am I ready?   
              
This is a justifiable read. The authors are intelligent and experienced. Expert analysis, true life accounts, and clear strategies are provided. I wholeheartedly commend When Helping Hurts .

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Bible Review: The ESV Archaeology Study Bible published by Crossway


As an armchair Biblical archaeologist I was excited to see that Crossway has published The ESV
Archaeology Study Bible. I have numerous Bibles of all bindings, covers, translations, etc., but this Bible just may become my “go to” Bible.

Features? This Bible is full of them. It is a hardbound volume and at over 2000 pages, it’s no light weight. Features in this volume make it a valuable tool for pastors, teachers, layman, and armchair enthusiasts, like myself. Even if archaeology is not the reader’s main focus it would be an exceptional addition to any library.

Just some of the features in this volume are:

  • Archaeology articles of interest
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Sidebars (with an index)
  • Concordance
  • Table of weights & measures
  • Timelines
  • Maps (with an index)
  • Background of the OT
  • Background of the NT
  • Author Bio’s
  • Copious notes
  • Cross references
  • Did I mention maps?


This study Bible will be well used in my library for study and lesson preparation. And, it has maps. Did I mention that? Maps always give me a helpful point of reference for the Biblical narrative and this Bible is packed with useful maps and an index.

For the non-teaching laymen, this volume would simply be enjoyable to slowly sift through gaining practical knowledge while bolstering spiritual understanding at the same time.

Drawbacks? The pages are extremely thin. But at 2,024 pages and nearly 2” thick, they need to be. On the other hand, to contain as much useful information as it does, those pages need to be thin.

This study Bible is well worth the purchase price and contains so much info you won’t be able to put it down. I have spent many enjoyable hours just paging through it, picking up info I didn’t have. It may very well become your "go to" Bible as well.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials by Dave Furman

There are many works on the subject of suffering. Many of them good, some very good, Kiss the Wave: Embracing Your Trials by Dave Furman is exceptionally good. Dave Furman is a pastor in Dubai and is no stranger to suffering. He has endured a nerve disorder that gives him pain everyday. He speaks not only Biblically on this issue but also from his own experience. Throughout the book he offers personal stories from his life. Suffering comes in many forms and Furman delves into them all.

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

As many know, this is a Charles Spurgeon quote.  Spurgeon suffered much in his own life from depression and several physical ailments as well. He was fully aware of the pains of this life and thus we have this famous quote from which the title of this book was taken.

In thirteen easily readable chapters Furman addresses the many aspects of suffering. Whether it be a physical difficulty, emotional distress or from many other issues, he takes us through and offers endless encouragement and many Biblical helps to sustain the reader.

Furman points out that we too often look for our significance from the world, depend on our circumstances for happiness, beg for physical and emotional healing all the while we may be missing God's point.

Rather with great pastoral care and love the author directs us to "...embrace the reality that God is using your pain to make you more like Christ." That's difficult to fathom but Furman explains this truth. "...The way to fight through our trials and grow in holiness is what we've talked about all through this book. Growing in holiness doesn't start by trying harder, but by believing better. We need to hope in the future grace we have in Christ..." God uses weakness to show our need for dependence upon him." Because ultimately, "This is why we kiss the wave. Our trials  are an endless buffet table with opportunities for us to grow and look more like Christ. As you struggle through your pain, be comforted that God is not wasting this trial but is doing a good work in you..." (All quotes from Kiss the Wave: Embracing Your Trials by Dave Furman.)

Furman never minimizes the pain the reader may be going through. He knows of it all too well. But he equally knows how easy it is to let frustration rule, to feel self pity, and to give over to sin in our darkest moments.

Furman's final chapter and conclusion are most encouraging. I'll leave that for the reader to explore. The appendix includes helpful recommended resources, a general index and a scripture index.

Give this book a read. You'll find it most helpful and encouraging.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Check out Dave Furman's book Being There: How to Love Those Who Are Hurting.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book Review: Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography by Herman Selderhuis

You'd be forgiven if you thought you knew a fair bit about Martin Luther, especially now at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. But Luther was a different kind of man; bombastic yet understanding, harsh yet kind, over the top yet pastoral. He is a difficult man to understand. We think we know him with the plethora of Facebook memes and the numerous tidbits from historians lately. But like any other historical figure that has initiated world changing events, the man must be studied and like any other man, he was a man of his time. At this point we can thank Herman Selderhuis for his biography of Luther, Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography. The mysteries of the man who changed Christendom forever have been mined and his story told.

Many see Luther as the man at ground zero of Lutheranism and moreover, the Reformation. Indeed, he was. However, his life's story is more convoluted, more variegated and more wrought with strife than most of us can imagine. His time was much different than ours. His world was one of sickness & disease, the plague, where church and government was inextricably intertwined, where excommunication was far worse than perceived today, and where going against the Roman Catholic Pope could get one killed. He persisted with his theology which focused on justification by faith; something we in the Reformed world today almost take for granted but it was miles away from what the church taught at the time. Rarely a kind word for those who opposed him, even friends could fall under his wrathful pen or spoken word if they dared to disagree with him.

Unlike Calvin, Luther wrote much about himself, both the happy times and those of strife. From these written words we know much about Luther and his struggles. Selderhuis has written a fascinating account of his life outlining his troubles and joy in both his personal and public life and quotes often from his works. Selderhuis doesn't candy coat his story, though. Luther was often harsh with his words, both written and spoken, and was not afraid of anyone, including those who could take his life. When issues arose he would travel to preach, speak at disputations and write volumes on issues needing change and explanation within the church. At any one time in his later years Luther could be preaching, writing, teaching, attending meetings and answering correspondence on a myriad of subjects. He was often exhausted. His home life was made enjoyable thanks to his wife Katharina who managed the household well. Luther loved her and his children much, however home life could be chaotic. Money always seemed to be an issue and their home was always filled with friends and lodgers. Katharina held it all together managing their money and vegetable gardens well. These various aspects tell the story of Luther's life, much the average Christian doesn't know, and Selderhuis does it well.

Selderhuis' writing is direct, enjoyable, and informative. In 350+ pages he shares the life of a man that changed history and to who every Christian is indebted. 

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Looking for other works on Luther? Check out this link at Reformed Renegade.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation by G.K. Beale

G.K. Beale is a well known author with many works on Biblical studies under his belt. Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation is quite informative and and an easy, enjoyable read.

The purpose of this handbook is to provide a short guide to the use of the OT citations and allusions in the NT. The intended audience is serious-minded Christians, students and pastors, with the hope that even scholars might benefit. (pg. vxii)

A more detailed volume that is co-authored by Beale, is linked below. Though an introductory work on the subject, the work is still detailed enough to keep even the novice Bible reader interested.

Chapter Headings

A quick run through of the contents gives the would be reader an idea of the span of this work.

1. Challenges to Interpreting the Use of the Old Testament in the New
2. Seeing the Old Testament in the New: Definitions of Quotations and Allusions and Criteria for Discerning Them
3. An Approach to Interpreting the Old Testament in the New
4. Primary ways the New Testament Uses the Old Testament
5. Hermeneutical and Theological Presuppositions of the New Testament Writers
6. The Relevance of Jewish Backgrounds for the Study of the Old Testament in the New: A Survey of the Sources
7. A Case Study Illustrating the Methodology of This Book

This is not a straight forward subject as the author asserts several times. Yet, Beale does point out the value of his methodology. Chapter three is the main concern, as the author states, of this handbook and indeed is the highlight. A nine fold approach is offered to answer the all important question, what method should be employed for interpreting how the NT uses the OT? (pg. xviii). This chapter alone is worth the price of the book even if it is the only chapter read.

Overview of Chapter Three

The nine fold approach:

1. Identify the OT reference
2. Analyze the broad NT context where the OT reference occurs.
3. Analyze the OT context both broadly and immediately...
4. Survey the use of the OT text in early and late Judaism that might be of relevance to the NT appropriation of the OT text.
5. Compare the texts (including their textual variants).
6. Analyze the author's textual use of the OT.
7. Analyze the author's interpretive use of the OT.
8. Analyze the author's theological use of the OT.
9. Analyze the author's rhetorical use of the OT.

Each step is elaborated with details to apply the steps outlined.

Though this review has focused on chapter three, the rest of the volume is well worth reading and comprehending. The balance of the book further elaborates on each step. The book is well foot noted, full of examples, has an extensive bibliography, author index, and ancient writings index.

For the serious minded student of Scripture, this book won't let you down. I heartily endorse it.

For further and more in depth study look into

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Great Book on Prayer - Reformed Forum

Glen and Camden at Reformed Forum discuss Ole Hallesby's book, Prayer. This is an older work that provides much wisdom on the subject and duty of prayer.  Don't miss this episode and follow the link to purchase the book.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review: How to Read & Understand the Old Testament Prophets by Peter Gentry

Many Christians struggle to make sense of the Old Testament. If you fall into this camp, you're not alone. Its not easy, let's face it. Peter Gentry's new book, How to Read & Understand the Old Testament Prophets is a great read and one that can assist the Bible reader with comprehension of the O.T.

This is not a scholarly work. It is written in simple language that even the newest of believers will understand. It will open the door to some of the most difficult passages to wrap your head around and perhaps provide a new perspective on some of those same passages.

...reading and studying the Bible may not be straightforward for readers with a modern and Western background in culture and language. The biblical texts in origin are ancient and Eastern— they come from a different culture and a different time. Kindle Location 168). Crossway.

One of the highlights of the volume is acquiring an understanding of the difference between modern western literature and that of ancient Hebrew literature. There is a vast chasm between the two that most readers today are unaware of. Moreover, Hebrew authors employed the recursive approach.

The normal pattern of Hebrew literature is to consider topics in a recursive manner, which means that a topic is progressively repeated. Such an approach seems monotonous to those who do not know and understand how these texts communicate.  (Kindle Location 172). Crossway.

Grasping these two points will do much to enhance the reading and study enjoyment for the modern Bible reader.

As Gentry continues, he offers specific and valuable examples from the O.T., often from Isaiah. These examples will do much to increase the reader's grasp of the prophets. Word pairs, triplets, typology, metaphors, symbolic language and especially apocalyptic language are subjects covered with enough clarity that the reader will derive an enhanced ability to engage with the OT authors.

Of most import, why was this written for us? What was the ultimate purpose?

...one major purpose of the Old Testament prophets was to bring the people back to faithful love and loyalty to Yahweh in the covenant relationship established at Sinai (Exodus   19– 24) and renewed at Moab (Deuteronomy). (Kindle Locations 446-447). Crossway. 

I can recommend this book with great enthusiasm. Not all of Scripture is perspicuous and this book will be an indispensable aid to those who wish to delve further and more deeply in the study of the O.T.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.


For further reading and study

Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation by G. K. Beale















Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by D. A. Carson & G.K. Beale

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Writing Your Book Review

We'd like to encourage all our readers, both here on the blog and our Facebook page, to start writing reviews of the Reformed books you've read. Reviewing reading material is a great way to share your thoughts on a work (new or old) and its not a bad way to make new friends in Reformed circles.

Don't know how to get started? Below are some links to writing a book review. There are many styles of reviews so pick one that suits you and get writing.


Wikihow

UNC Writing Center

Purdue Online Writing Lab

Writing World

The Pen and Pad

Dalhousie University

Got a question? Jump over to our Facebook page and ask.

We look forward to reading your reviews.

Just for the record, we do not endorse any of the above websites. They do, however, contain some good information.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Authors Trueman and Gordon Speak at Reformation Conference

Authors Dr. Carl Trueman and Dr. T. David Gordon spoke at the Remembering & Renewing Reformation Conference in Hudson, Ohio. Click here for the audio and please share. Don't forget to check out their books, too.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Authors Trueman and Gordon to Speak at Reformation Conference

Redeemer Church in Hudson, Ohio will be having two well known authors speak at it's upcoming Remembering & Renewing Reformation Conference in June. Authors and speakers Dr. T. David Gordon and Dr. Carl Truman will highlight the conference. Presentation topics include Preparing for a Reformation, Luther’s Reformation, and Contemporary Reformation. The first 50 registrants receive a signed copy of Truman's Luther and the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom. For more information and to register, please check the website for the conference.