The Reformation in England (2-volume set) by D’Aubigne

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What a classic! I’ve heard of this jewel for years and am excited to see this reprinting by Banner of Truth. D’Aubigne is an able historian who writes with spiritual fire. These volumes lived up to the hype I heard and I was not disappointed!

Volume 1 was made up of 4 books and took us all the way back to the earliest days of Christianity in England (2nd to 6th Centuries). I enjoyed the fine Introduction to the writer and this work. When we jump into the text, we hear of St. Patrick, the early infiltration of Rome, Wycliffe, the Lollards, and the very origin of the Reformation in England. There’s amazing, inspiring tales of martyrs for Christ. The latter part tells how the divorce of Henry and all that led up to it had an amazing impact on the Reformation. He won’t allow you to believe that the Reformation is a secular event, though, but rather the Lord working through amazing means.

Volume 2 was made up of 3 books and takes us on through Henry VIII’s death as the author sees that as the ultimate birth of the Reformation in England. Henry was a despicable, unstable man! His treatment of his wives was heinous. Still, it’s clear that the Lord works behind the scenes to free England from its religious darkness through these political events. It’s incredible how much blood was spilled along the way. If you’re a Baptist like me, you will love the respectful way he mentions the Anabaptists.

This 2-volume set is well-written, captivating, and illuminating. The author clearly knows what he’s talking about and knows how to tell us. He reads much better than some of the usual heavy reading of that time period. As with other Banner titles, the set is beautiful and bound to last. Frankly, I loved it. It’s THE title for those with an English background for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sermons for Advent and Christmas Day by Luther

book luther

We’ve all heard so much about Martin Luther. I’ve even read his biography entitled “Here I Stand” by Bainton, also published by Hendrickson Publishers, and enjoyed it. What I had not done, however, is read any of his sermons. I’m glad to possess this book so I can get a feel of Luther for myself. Plus sermons for the Christmas season are always a blessing for sermon ideas or devotional reading.

The book begins with a fine preface that gives a biographic overview of Luther. It’s extremely serviceable if you need to brush up on Luther before you get started reading the sermons. From there the sermons are designed to correspond with the first, second, third, and fourth Sunday of Advent followed by two sermons specifically for Christmas Day.

In the first sermon Luther takes us to Matthew 21:1-9 and the Triumphal Entry of Christ. The goal, I believe, is to make us remember the why of Advent, or the why of Christ’s coming to us. Over the course of the sermon, Luther explains the mistaken views some Jews had over the Messiah. It’s in this sermon you will find that his sermons were quite long (100 points in 32 pages). Still, there’s a lot of content.

His second sermon takes us to Luke 21:25-36 where he draws out the comfort Christians can take from the signs of the Day of Judgment. The third one considers Matthew 11:2-10 and looks at how Jesus answers John’s question on if He was the Messiah they were looking for, or should they look for another. This text could, in my judgement, be used more for Advent than the previous one. The fourth sermon looks at John 1:19-28 and is something of a sequel to the last one in examining John the Baptist’s confession of Christ.

The last two sermons are Christmas messages expounding Luke 2:1-4 and John 1:1-14 respectively. There are many things to ponder in his look at Luke 2, though I could not accept them all. Still, it’s well worth reading. The last one is a perfect Christmas text rarely preached on Christmas. It is THE text of the Incarnation and Luther does well making much of Christ in it.

Beyond being an asset at Christmas time, this book is a great place to sample Luther. With two good reasons like that, I’d recommend you get this book!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Christ Exalted Sermons of Jonathan Edwards–A Review

book edwards sermons

Hurrah for more Jonathan Edwards sermons! Hendrickson Publishers already graced us with Revival Sermons of Jonathan Edwards a few months ago and now they have unearthed some other jewels for us. I’m a pastor who believes in having a healthy dose of sermons in my library, and have could we have a real sermonic library without some Edwards?

There’s no doubt that his sermons are uniquely his own. I can’t think of anyone who would organize a sermon quite like he would. He sees no problem in being long. His style usually involves beginning with some doctrine on the subject and then branching out into pointed, applicable material to take the Scripture home to the hearer’s hearts. I wouldn’t recommend that any of us preach a sermon put together as his are, but his logical mind and scriptural acumen are helpful to us all. Read him more for personal, theological, and doctrinal reflection rather than a prototype for preaching today.

These sermons, as the title implies, exalt Jesus Christ. The first sermon tackles a fine text most likely only rarely preached–Isaiah 32:2. If the title “Safety, Fullness, and Sweet Refreshment in Christ” sounds odd, I assure you he found all three in Christ for us. I love his preaching on one of my favorite texts in Revelation 5:5-6 and drawing out the excellency of Christ. He brings alive so much of Christ’s character in it. In the sermon “Jesus Christ the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever” he not only exposes how Christ transcends time, but lays out how that fact should impact our lives.

The next sermon “Christ Exalted” explains how He is exalted in His work of redemption. It’s a treat to have the sermon he preached at David Brainerd’s funeral from 2 Corinthians 5:8. He makes clear our assurance of going directly into the presence of Christ at death. There are some post-sermon comments added as well. Preachers will find encouragement from his “Christ, the Example of Ministers” from John 13:15-16. The last sermon, “Christ’s Agony” takes us to Gethsemane in Luke 22:44. I disagree on a few points, but there is much to ponder.

Edwards’ sermon had the hand of God on them when he preached them and it’s a privilege for us to revel in these proven sermons. This book is a nice, durable, attractive paperback and I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

An Unhurried Leader by Fadling (Books on the Ministry #18)

book unhurried

I needed this book. So many leadership books offer up the same, though slightly retreaded, message of so many others, but this book is food for the soul. It’s the best book for pastors, or any in a leadership position, that I’ve read in a long time. There’s no gimmicks here to manipulate people, just a call to commune with God to the point He imbibes your work with His grace.

In a day where so many speak of effectiveness, Fadling prefers that we look at fruitfulness instead. He unearths the often-buried scriptural truth that fruitfulness comes from abiding in Christ. If the Lord makes you fruitful, you will influence others and the task of leadership is fulfilled. He makes it all sound so simple while the work of communing with God is at once challenging and the very opposite of work. If that sounds confusing, just read the book.

He begins by asking us to be unhurried leaders who stop seeing activity as productivity. He exposes the subtle pride that we often present as spiritual leadership. He explains our blind spot of working for God instead of with God. He challenges us to lead from abundance–a concept we frankly don’t get. He gently scolds us to stop running from the thirst of our souls to unquenching activity.

There’s so much more. The chapter on prayer is the most insightful I’ve read in years. More than being condemned as most prayer treatises, I want to implement what he says.

Outstanding is an understatement for this book. 5-star plus gets a little closer. I hope many will read and follow and be helped as I was!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Pastoral Theology by Akin and Pace

book pastoral theology

Daniel Akin and R. Scott Pace team to provide us with an outstanding volume on pastoral theology. Its design is what sets it apart from others in the field. It aims at more than the “what” by focusing on the “why”. That doesn’t mean that the book isn’t practical, but that it draws its practicality by providing the reader with a stronger desire to take pastoral work seriously.

The book begins with more theological foundation and builds to pastoral ministry. Section One has three chapters covering theological, Christological, and pneumatological doctrine and the relationship for the pastor and God’s character, champion, and Companion.

Section Two covers anthropology, ecclesiology, and missiology. This guides us even more to ministry. From there, the book blossoms into a passionate plea for preaching and pastoral ministry. Every page was full of nuggets. I don’t see how any preacher couldn’t be deeply challenged, guided, and encouraged. The chapter on balancing our families in ministry is worth the price of the book.

This book succeeds on both the level of theology and ministry. I can’t imagine a better book for pastoral theology. Let’s read it and remind ourselves why our ministry is so critically important and how scriptural the ministry is!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Seven Leaders by Iain Murray

book seven leaders

Iain Murray continues his impressive output of biographies in this latest volume published by Banner of Truth. Though some are more known than others, his 7 mini-biographies on John Elias, Andrew Bonar, Archie Brown, Kenneth MacRae, Martin Lloyd-Jones, W. J. Grier and John MacArthur makes for enjoyable reading. He intends to show that the Lord uses different individuals to similarly do a mighty work. Still, you might not see the connection in the seven here, and even surmise that a better list could have been assembled, yet that doesn’t hinder the book from being a good one.

Murray is chatty. He at times falls into the minutia of a doctrinal debate, he over-emphasizes election, and can jump around a lot. While being casual would sink most biographers, Murray comes out on top again. I’ve never failed to be blessed by his biographies. It’s the perceptive spiritual and devotional content he draws out of the lives of those he writes about that makes his books as edifying as they are enjoyable.

Any preacher will get a double blessing from this book. He has striking conversations about what we do as preachers from the words and actions of those whose story he tells. He refers several times to the difference in varying texts and the consecutive method and concludes both have a place. It’s only preaching devoid of doctrine that misses the mark.

The three he has already written biographies on were the ones he seemed to purposefully not give as much biographic details. He preferred to make more wry observations instead. I’ve always loved Lloyd-Jones and that chapter was what you’d expect. Of those I knew little, I especially enjoyed John Elias, Archie Brown, and Kenneth MacRae. Though I was familiar with Bonar, his chapter was enlightening and outstanding.

As an added bonus, Banner always provides beautiful volumes with its hardbacks. This book is a worthy choice to find its place on your biography shelves and to provide several hours of reading pleasure.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Interpreting the Psalms by Mark Futato

book psalms

In the series “Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis” that teaches us how to interpret the different genres of the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms is rightfully seen as so important as to receive its own volume in the series. This book will complement “Interpreting Poetry”, which can also be found in this series by Kregel.

Chapter 1 discusses appreciating poetry and seeks to differentiate Hebrew poetry from what is common in our culture. For one thing, rhyming is not important in Hebrew poetry. This chapter also serves to define all the terms like line, colon, by-colon, strophe, stanza, and correspondence. The chapter also seeks to explain imagery and patterns. As you will find throughout the book, many examples are pulled from the Book of Psalms to make his point.

The next chapter on “Viewing the Whole” was one of the best in the entire book. The author gave much discussion on the purpose and message of the Psalms where he found the theme of the book to be the kingship of God and the eschatological hope that our King is coming.

Chapter 3 is about preparing for interpretation. In this chapter, we learn to ascertain the historical setting of a Psalm, to see the timelessness of the Psalms, and how to do text criticism. This chapter ends with bibliographic suggestions for further study. Chapter 4 is about interpreting the categories, or as we might normally express it, the genres. He explains how these things guide our expectations and give another level of context to help us. Chapter 5 moves us on to the sermon and putting into practice what we’ve learned in the book. The book is concluded with a helpful glossary.

This book by Mr. Futato, and edited by David Howard, is a worthy addition to this series. It stacks up well with the others that I have had the chance to use. It gives hermeneutic help in the narrow, but vitally important, Book of Psalms. I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Interpreting the New Testament:Essays on Methods and Issues

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Here’s a collection of 22 essays on issues involved in New Testament interpretation. This collection boasts a host of highly-respected scholars including Peter Davids, David Dockery, Darrell Bock, Grant Osborne, George Guthrie, Craig Blomberg, Robert Stein, Gary Burge, John Polhill, Thomas Schreiner, and several others. I view this book as a superb secondary text on New Testament hermeneutics. Keep this book nearby to your chosen hermeneutics textbook and you will find the extra help that you need.

Part one is an introduction that contains the first two essays. The first one on authority, hermeneutics, and criticism by Peter Davids is quite provocative. Though I cannot agree with every statement he made, I couldn’t help being instructed by what he shared. The second chapter provides a fine historical survey of New Testament interpretation.

Part two contains essays 3-8 covering the basic methods in New Testament interpretation. All told, textual, source, form, redaction, literary, and sociological criticism are all covered in turn. Though I am skeptical of the value several of these critical methods, I find these essays outstanding in explaining what each of these criticisms are. Whether we agree or not, these critical methods play such a part in the modern scholarly world that we must at least grasp what they mean. Though these authors may find more value here than I do, they still write in a conservative vein.

Part three is the largest section and contains essays 9-22. Highlights include an explanation of the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament and another chapter on discourse analysis. Beginning in essay 13 several of the following chapters cover the literary genres of the Scripture. To my mind, these are some of the most difficult elements of hermeneutics and are a place where we can use help. I appreciated the final essay on New Testament interpretation and preaching by Richard Wells that reminds us that the task of interpretation is to lead us to the sermon.

Again, I feel this book quite valuable to have in your hermeneutic library. As I said before, I do not see it as a first choice for a hermeneutics textbook, but as an outstanding aid for extra reading in areas we find difficult to understand. It’s refreshing to have a conservative resource for such help. I think you ought to check out this book.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Self-Aware Leader by Terry Linhart

book aware leader

Terry Linhart has written a book here that forces ministry leaders to take the inward look. With the current epidemic of ministers either falling by the wayside or succumbing to burnout, this book provides an important self check. Though we cover some of the same material found in similar books, his writing is perceptive, flows well, and issues a real challenge .

In his introduction, he is transparent in telling his own story and his own bumpy path that taught him to finally develop self-awareness. He explains self-deception that finally pushes us into a life of hypocrisy. Though self-awareness is a modern psychological term, he means it in the biblical sense of examining ourselves before God.

In chapter 1, he reminds us that most of us want to do our best in Christian ministry, yet we often fall short of our potential. He rips from the pages of the New Testament the analogy of a race to help us see life as it should be seen. (Be sure to note the Johari Window he shares). He exposes our allusions that we can bear fruit without being closely connected to Jesus Christ. In chapter 2 he goes after our blind spots and teaches us to learn to pass the smell test in our actions and reactions. In chapter 3 he encourages us to learn how to view our past appropriately.

When it comes to chapter 4, he tackles the sticky subject of our not being blind to our temptations. He hammers away at what he calls “the big five” of seeking prominence, holding on to control, valuing shiny stuff, pursuing inappropriate intimacy, and relishing resentment. He provides self checks and ways to build in personal safeguards in each category. In chapter 5 he tackles our emotions and surveys the damage they can cause and the emotional maturity we need. Chapter 7 guides us through the common ministry problem of conflicts. Again, he provides practical advice for being more mature in that area. The final chapter is about seeing your margins. He gives some really thoughtful help and encouragement here. His conclusion brings out the end goal to steady our perspective.

Mr. Linhart succeeds in helping us find our blind spots to reach our true ministry potential. The book reads well and is a real help. In our age of brokenness, this book has come along at a perfect time. I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Biblical Hermeneutics (2nd Ed.) by Corley, Lemke, and Lovejoy

book herm corley

This volume on biblical hermeneutics, edited by Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, is offered up as a comprehensive introduction to interpreting Scripture. Its approach is different than many such volumes in that each chapter is written by scholarly expert in that field. Usually, one or only a few contribute to such a book. The book is divided into five parts presented in the logical order of how to study the Bible, biblical hermeneutics in history, the authority, inspiration, and language of Scripture, the genres of Scripture, and going from exegesis to proclamation. The book is aimed at students and ministers and has been widely used as a textbook.

The book begins with a fine primer for exegesis to help those with little background and to define the keywords any student will need to know in the subject. As with each chapter, the contributor provides a bibliography for further study. Chapter 2 explains the grammatical – historical method and puts this book on a firm conservative foundation. From there, inductive Bible study methods are explained.

The next section covers biblical hermeneutics in history in eight chapters. While that might be more history than some would want, it covers all the bases and is well done. Part 3 brings in the often-forgotten subject of the authority and inspiration of Scripture and introduces us to textual criticism.

One of the best sections of this book is part 4 where the genres of Scripture are discussed in seven chapters. To my mind, this is where the student most often needs help and they’ve gone out of their way in this book to provide it. Biblical hermeneutics that doesn’t go on to preaching is rather pointless, so the final five chapters teach us how to take the hermeneutic process and translate it into biblical preaching.

This book is a solid effort. I prefer it as a secondary resource as it complements well with other volumes that might have gaps. This volume is well worth securing.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.