Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: A New Song: Responding Poetically To The Psalms by D.P. Myers

It's really tough to find quality, Reformed devotional material. I'm always on the look out for it. A New Song: Responding Poetically To The Psalms by D.P. Myers is just such a book. Consisting of over 170 poems, most corresponding to the Psalms, Myers allows the reader to enter in to his lengthy study of the Psalms and his poetic response.

The Psalms can be our response to God in all of life's situations, particularly to affliction and for praise. I return to the Psalms often in times of darkness and light. Myers encourages us to do that and to see past the words to their true meaning.

From the book jacket we read

A New Song is both a devotional and a guidebook. As a devotional, the reader is offered a glimpse into Myers' multi-year journey through the Psalms resulting in writing over 170 poems. Each poem, when read alongside the accompanying Psalm, can help the prayerful reader to consider the ways in which God may be speaking through each Psalm As a guidebook, A New Song briefly discusses our innate creative nature and then offers suggestions which, when illustrated by Myers' examples, will encourage you to find your own creative voice with which to sing a new song unto the Lord.

Of course, I turned to some of my favorite Psalms that have offered me the most comfort and instruction over the years.

From the response to Psalm 35

Repentant is my weeping heart,
     Always longing for your touch,
Your breath of life, a fresh new start,
     I need these Lord, so much.

And again from Psalm 54

Still I sit in darkest night
    In my isolation's pain,
Waiting when for me you'll fight
   So I'll see the dawn again.

From Psalm 90

To lift me from the dark pit
   Of muck and death and sin,
Leading me so far from it,
   This hellish life I'm in.

To search out your grand measure
   Through all my years and days
And find no greater pleasure
   Than seeking all your ways.

Then be taken home one day,
   The castle of the King, 
Where your glories will be shown
   And sinner cleansed will sing.

Myers demonstrates that poetry has a way of taking us from an instructional mode to a contemplative mode. When we meditate on a Psalm and corresponding poem we can regain the perspective we often lose that the Lord wants us to have. In the Psalms the full range of emotions are found and can be expressed to the Lord on prayer. And there we can gather our thoughts and revel in God's glory and majesty.

This book has quickly become a favorite devotional tool for me. Let us remain diligent in our time with the Lord by reading, meditating, and praying. A New Song is a wonderful companion to the Psalms to do so.

The Reformed Book Cellar received a complimentary copy of this book.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Review: No Little Women by Aimee Byrd

...if we are serious about the distinctiveness of men and women, and if we really do believe that women are created to be necessary allies, then above all we should want to equip competent, theologically minded, thinking women, which has been the theme of this whole book.

The male-female dynamic has been much in the news lately, so much so that when I saw that Aimee Byrd's new book, No Little Women had been published, I was anxious to get my hands on it and dig in.

Aimee Byrd is a wife, mother, church member, author, and co-host of the Mortification of Spin podcast. Well known in many Reformed circles, she is intelligent, thoughtful and a capable writer. Her style is provocative and well worthy of reading.

Byrd's theme is as we find it above from page 138. With that in mind, she sets out to demonstrate that women are indeed the ally to men. Through several chapters she outlines the approach we should take offering correctives and concluding several chapters directed to church officers.

Much of the focus of this book covers the bad theology so often pandered to women in its many forms but especially in books. One need only to wander around the local Christian book store or search Amazon's website to see the latest drivel aimed at the female Christian demographic.

In many cases, women's ministry is the back door for bad doctrine to enter the church. (pg. 22)

And it comes on the heels of doctrine promoted in these books.  Can this be changed? Yes, by women with discernment learning good theology with recognition and care from their church officers. Byrd offers the necessary insight to reach this needed goal.

We  are to recognize that women are created in the image of God as necessary allies to men carrying out his mission. Because of this, women are to be good theologians with informed convictions. We are to take this call seriously and invest quality time in our theological growth and Bible study within the context of our local church as a foundation to our service and contributions to the church, our families, and society. The church is to recognize this and help to equip competent women as necessary allies. (pg. 178)

I was particularly interested in how Byrd would address the plethora of bad theology published to and for women. I wasn't disappointed. In chapter 8 she describes how to chose a book and author, how to read a book, and of utmost importance, how to be discerning. She gives examples from these books by authors such as Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, Sarah Young and others so that the reader may learn and practice discernment. Well done.

No doubt, No Little Women will evoke some visceral responses but I urge the reader to thoughtfully and Biblically think through what Byrd is advocating.

This book abounds with wisdom - for women and men. I strongly urge men and church officers to read, digest and apply what is found within it's pages. Women, if you are reading these false teachers that offer religion through sentimentality, please ween yourself from that rubbish. Invest in quality reading material that teaches the truth as found in God's Word. It is all that will ever satisfy your soul. Make a good start by reading No Little Women.

(I would give this book a 5 Star rating but the author does not like that rating system so pretend you didn't read this bit.)

P&R Publishing has provided a complimentary copy of this book.