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Songs of a Suffering King: The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1-8

This is a short devotional read on Psalms 1-8 written by a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a professor at Westminster Seminary California. I typically don’t read devotional literature like this as much as more strictly theological works, but this book will not let down those lovers of deep theology. While it caused this reader to think and rejoice more deeply about Christ it did not do so by bypassing the theological nature of the texts. Many doctrines are dealt with along the way for the benefit of the reader such as union with Christ, imputed righteousness, justification, and more. Ultimately you will learn how David points forward to Christ and how all of the Psalms point to Christ as well as seeing the structure of the Psalms and how they relate.

This book is more on the devotional level as mention but also is provocative yet biblical and true. While many have their favorite Psalms or parts of Psalms he doesn’t shy away from dealing with the tough parts of the Psalms. Issues like praying for God to defeat our enemies and the question of does God hear the prayers of unbelievers are dealt with head on. The work is also convicting and comforting. We are shown that God searches the heart and mind, not just outward appearance which is a scary thought. The reader will be pushed to strive for holiness and run to the cross for grace.

Who might want to read this book. Anyone looking for good devotional literature that is theologically sound on Psalms 1-8 will find this book helpful. It could also be used well reading through with another using the study question provided at the end of each chapter. As the book comes in at a total of 123 pages and written in simple fashion it will be accessible to most.
An unique feature to the book that may encourage you to pick it up is that each chapter includes a metrical psalm at the end and tells of internet resources where audio files are to help you sing them. This will be helpful to many who have not sung the psalms before, which I assume is a large majority.

The only critique I have of the book is that each chapter doesn’t contain the full text of the Psalm at the beginning. A small section is usually given where I believe it would have been helpful to include the text of the Psalm at the beginning of each chapter.

The Physical book is great for a paperback. The cover is beautiful yet simple. This will look nice on your shelf as far a paperback can. I can picture a series of books with similar covers looking very nice if J.V. Fesko were to write on more of the Psalms. The texture of the cover feels very nice in the hand as well as it is not a high gloss cover. The covers seem to stay flared out a bit when book laid down while the pages return to flat position fairly well.

I would recommend this book to those who want to study Psalms 1-8 and believe they will have a greater gratitude for love of Christ Jesus from it.

Year:2014
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Pages: 123
Binding: glue
Boards: paperback
Scripture Index: no
Persons Index: no
Subject Index: no
Footnotes or Endnotes: footnotes
WTS Books: $9.00

This book was provided to me by the publisher free of charge in exchange for a review.  I was not required to give a positive review

Reading Jonathan Leeman’s book “Reverberation” really changed the way I viewed the scripture and increased my love for the word especially as preached, read, and sung at church.  So when I saw Jonathan Leeman’s recommendation of this book I was excited to read it.  “ Can I really trust the Bible? And other questions about scripture, truth and how God speaks” is a short but extremely helpful read.  It is a good book published by The Good Book Company.

 

Who is it for?

This book would be a great read for all Christians, but may be especially suitable for discipling new believers or those young in their faith.  It also would be great for anyone interested in an intro level work on the trustworthiness of the Bible and why we have what we have as our bible.  Ultimately it would be helpful for all Christians to have a basic knowledge of trustworthiness of the book they base their faith on and this book is the place to start.

Be sure to check out this tongue in cheek promo video.

 

The Good

This book is great and I will recommend it to others.  Its brevity makes it very useful in a day when many don’t read long tomes and its simplicity and style make it accessible to readers of many ages and ability.  This can be seen in examples such as footnote 1 in chapter one (page 10) the author says “ If you’re unfamiliar with Bible references, the number before the “v” is the chapter, and the number after is the verse. So “Psalm 19 v. 1-4 means the book of Psalms, chapter 19, verses 1 to 4”.  This book truly could be handed to someone with no background or understanding of the Bible.

The book though is not so surface level as to leave a long time Christian wanting.  Cooper says things that will get you out of bed on Sunday morning ready to go hear the word preached dealing with the depth of God’s word.  On page 14 he says “ Then, just as God’s spoken word brought light into being in Genesis  1 v3, so, as we’ve just seen in Psalm 19, his written word is described as “giving light to the eyes”. As the psalm implies, God’s written word is no less powerful or life-giving than his spoken word. If this is true, then when we read God’s word, or hear it preached, we should read or listen with trembling and anticipation. The fierce power that summoned and sustains the universe is about to be unleashed again in our hearing.”  This powerful and something a new believer to the elderly saint needs to be reminded of.

 

Cooper argues persuasively thought that the Bible claims to be the word of God, seems to be the word of God, and proves to be the word of God.  Throughout these arguments there are gray boxes with little blurbs on related subjects that are helpful and place at timely spaces where it makes it natural to read and not distract from the rest of the chapter.  They are edited nicely so you don’t have to turn back pages to pick up where you previously a nice touch.

The Bad

It is a struggle to think of something to critique the book on.  One small thing is that the Author lives in the UK so some of the English is a bit foreign to us in the USA but it does not hinder the reading of it and the style the author writes with really keeps one reading along.

Another minor thing is that he says on page 72 “Sometimes, theologians speak about the “clarity” of Scripture.” This may have been a chance to introduce reader to term “perspicuity” which means clarity and is a term they will run into if they go deeper into the subject and that the bible is not necessarily easy to understand but that what is necessary for salvation is clear.

There is so much to commend about this book that I would feel comfortable handing it to anyone without  any qualifications.

The Physical Book

The book is a small paperback and bright orange (to my eyes) but with a fairly attractive design. The bible on the front is pressed out and has a nice feel when holding the book.  After reading it doesn’t lay flat again and pages seem to stay flared out.  The paper is a gray paper and not a bright white but the text type is easy on the eyes.  The outside margins have to be some of the smallest I have seen which makes taking notes difficult but there are 8 blank pages in the back with header “notes” to help one out there.  Also strangely online you will find several endorsements of the book which made me interested in picking it up but the actually hard copy contains none which is unfortunate.

Author: Barry Cooper

Publisher : The Good Book Company

Year: 2014

Pages: 81

Binding: glue

Boards: Paperback

Footnotes or endnotes: footnotes

Scripture index: no

person index: no

subject index: no

WTS books: $7.19

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review and was not required to give either a positive or negative review.

Worshipping With Calvin: Recovering The Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism by Terry L. Johnson

Worshipping with Calvin is a book that deserves a wide readership.  This book is most likely to appeal to Pastors, Music Ministers, and those in leadership of the church, but would be helpful to all of those in the pews as well.  This is an excellent book that describes the history and benefits of Reformed worship that exemplified in the liturgies of John Calvin and other reformational pastors and those reformed men who followed them.  It shows how the ministry and worship of the reformation was really a recovery of the best of the early church Patristics and ultimately and expression of Biblical worship.  One may not be convinced at every point along the way but it is definitely a primer to get one thinking about the hows and whys of our corporate worship of God, but Johnson does write in a very convincing manner.  If interested in how we ought to worship God then pick up this book.

 

The entire work may be summed up in that our corporate worship should be God centered and done in the ways God prescribes.  It is kept God centered by being Bible filled, we see worked out through the pages of this book that we are to read the bible, preach the bible, sing the bible, pray the bible and more be structured by the Bible all of this done dependent upon the Holy Spirit.  This is something not many would argue against but practically are our churches worshiping in a manner consistent with these principles.  We have a limited amount of time each Lord’s Day so we must be aware that everything done outside of what God has prescribed for us to worship Him takes away from those.  The book places an emphasis on the ordinary, or the simple in worship and therefore Johnson argues the Spiritual.  The ordinary means of grace; word, sacraments, and prayer along with singing of Psalms and Hymns are the authors argues the God ordained and most proper ways to worship God and spend our time gathered together.  Convinced of much of this already this book really deepened my understanding of the ordinary means of grace and thankfulness for them.

 

Areas that I found very interesting where the discussions on singing of Psalms and the structure of the worship service.  Having never sang and metrical Psalm in a church service his description of the history and benefits of Psalm singing were great.  Also being taught by the author that the structure or form of our worship services says something was an enlightening aspect of the book.  He talks about how the structure of reformed worship is intentional and gospel centered showing how the structure speaks as well as what is being said does.  He quotes Michael Horton saying the liturgy provides “ways of preaching the Word even before the sermon begins”.  There was much more new that I learned reading this book but those are just a couple that stuck out. 

The few critiques I have of the book are miniscule.  First is the often referenced and quoted Richard Baxter.  Several of Baxter’s works have been republished recently and even one called the “reformed pastor” and he is often talked about side by side with the reformers and puritans as one of the guys.  Yet from what I have read and heard he has some very dangerous views on justification that would be outside of the reformed doctrine of Justification by faith alone in Christ alone by the imputation of Christ righteousness.  I wish he would have made a reference in saying while Baxter’s views on worship may be helpful you want to be warned of his unorthodox views on justification.  Feel free to correct me in comments on this if I am wrong.

Another would be what I thought was a strange section where he talks about Roman Catholic missionary Matthew Ricci and says he was “… among the most successful missionaries in the history of the church.”  I hope he is saying successful in the view of Roman Catholics but bringing men into the Roman Catholic church doesn’t qualify as a successful missionary in my thinking. See page 278 for referenece. 

Lastly of concern is his doctrine of infant baptism, while I agree that baptism is a means of grace, I am a Baptist so believe infant baptism is not taught in the scriptures and is for disciples alone.  But I won’t write much on that because the book is written by a Presbyterian so it is to be expected and would be wrong if he did not defend the importance of his position.

I would recommend this book especially to those who may be considered the “young, restless, and reformed” as I know many men who have embrace the doctrines of grace but have not yet come to grasp the importance of the ordinary means of grace and the church gathered to worship.  Also excitingly the author notes that there is a follow up volume in the works dealing with the implementation of this books subject. The title for the next volume is to be “Serving with Calvin”.

Published: 2014

Publishier: Evangelical Press (EP)

Pages: 433 (320 text then bibliography and notes)

Binding: glue

Boards: Paperback (has a nice feel to it in your hands, maybe in analogy it is like eggshell paint compared to gloss, I like it a lot better than many paperbacks I have.)

Paper and typeset: The paper is thick and decent quality allowing notes with minimal bleeding and also margins are fairly wide allowing for notes and didn’t creep too far down page towards the spine for ease of reading.  The typeset was nice allowing for easy reading.

Bibliography: yes and with table of contents, is 47 pages long

Scripture index: no

index of persons: no

subject index: no

endnotes or footnotes: endnotes 75 pages of notes so made for a lot of flipping back and forth but some good material there.

This book was given to me by the publisher  in exchange for a review not required to be positive.

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

Forward by David Platt

I have seen this book on so many online retailers and reviews in magazines and on blogs I was very interested to read it.  I have seen very positive reviews of the book and I will for the most part agree with those.  This is a book that is helpful but may not be for everyone.  The book goes into great depth on dealing with helping those in poverty and defining what poverty is.  It discusses several methods to approaching alleviating poverty with different financial strategies.

 

I would recommend this book to those who are involved in different organizations that deal with the poor and pastors predominately.  Much of the warnings are very helpful to have a grasp of even as I was thinking of the kind of charity and work that my small group bible study partakes in.  But as far as the forming financial institutions in the majority world and how homeless shelters and like ministries might work this book would be of great help for those in leadership there.  This book will help these leaders to think more critically about how they help the poor and how they shouldn’t.

 

My qualms with this book are small and even nit picking. The authors even address my concerns to an extent.  They say on page 235 “ Space does not permit a full discussion of the issues involved in finding the proper limits of the institutional church’s involvement with the larger community, and we recognize that sincere Christians disagree on this difficult issue.”  As one who holds two a form of two kingdom theology I found myself disagreeing with certain applications of the scriptures teaching on helping the poor.  They seem to hold to more of  transformational viewpoint.  This being said most of the warnings and positive advice are applicable to all it may just differ on whether a church as a whole is doing it or individual Christians.

 

Overall I would recommend this book to all those are interested in better serving those in poverty.

 

Published: 2009, 2012 (expanded edition)

Publisher: Moody

Binding: Glue

Boards: Paperback

Notes: Endnotes

Scripture Index: no

Subject Index: no

Persons Index: no

Pages: 274

 Buy Here: $13.49

I received a copy of this book from moody publishers in exchange for a review which was not required to be positive.

Is the devil at work here in 2014? Do Christians need to be on guard against the devils schemes?  The answer to these questions is a resounding yes in the new book by Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura. In this new and highly praised book the authors approach questions of spiritual warfare as the title suggest in a biblical and balanced perspective.  The authors show the real and present danger of the Devil and his demons without sensationalizing the topic.  In fact the book constantly points us to Christ and his person and work for us, not speculating on abstract ideas about the devil.  I believe this book is a great introduction on the subject as it comes in at just 124 pages it is very accessible to a wide audience.  It is a 124 pages of reading well worth ones time.

If you are looking for a lot of answers to questions about the devil and demons and want to speculate on a wide variety of questions this is not your book.  You will find in this book though biblical principles to fighting the devil and standing against him as a Christian in your daily life.  The book is essentially an exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20.  The book works through each piece of the armor we are to wear and the sword we are to wield.  Each piece is describe and what it would of looked like on soldiers in the time period and how it is a metaphor for spiritual warfare.  The books greatest strength I believe is that it constantly points us to Christ and our union with him throughout the description of how to use the armor.  The book does contain 3 appendixes than do answer some question not addressed specifically in Ephesians 6.

The book finishes by showing how all of the armor of God is to be used through prayer.  This is a powerful chapter showing the importance of prayer in the believers life.

A quote to wet your appetite to read this book comes from page 86 “ Corporate worship is not just a time to express emotion or to practice our singing; it is a time for warfare.  When we sing God’s truth, when we sing Scripture, we are wielding the sword of the Spirit in a mighty way in worship and praise.”

I really had no issues with the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in this subject.  Also I would recommend listening to the authors interviewed on the Confessing Baptist Podcast Interview #40

Year: 2014

Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books

Pages: 124

Boards: Paperback

Binding: Glue

Scripture Index: No

Subject Index: No

Person Index: No

Footnotes or Endnotes: Footnotes

Forward: Steven J. Lawson

Endorsements By: Voddie Baucham Jr., Thomas R. Schreiner, Peter O’Brien (note that on wtsbooks.com there are more endorsements given that are not on the hardcopy of book by Carl Trueman, Stanley Gale, Bruce Ware, Bruce Ray, Joel Beeke, Paul Washer, Phil Johnson, David Murray, and Al Martin)

Buy Here: WTSbooks $ 9.75

I received a free review copy of this book from Reformation Heritage Books and was not required to give a positive review.

1689 Federalism

This video is a well made introduction to recovering the particular baptist view of covenant theology.

http://youtu.be/_lKe2VopL9k

Book Alert: The Kingdom of God: A Baptist Expression of Covenant and Biblical Theology

Pre-order Jeff Johnson’s forthcoming book on covenant theology and get 40-50% off.

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